By Grace Alegba
The Federal Government on Thursday appealed to highway traders and beggars under bridges and along Lagos-Ibadan Expressway to immediately vacate the highway to save lives.
The Federal Controller of Works in Ogun State, Mr Umar Bakare made the appeal during the grand finale of a two-day mass sensitisation exercise against road abuse and encroachment.
Bakare who led a delegation of engineers and the Federal Controllers of Works in Lagos and Oyo States raised the alarm over danger to lives of business owners and traders.
He advised those carrying out commercial activities on road medians and setbacks between Ojota in Lagos to Ojoo in Ibadan, to quickly vacate the spot to escape avoidable accidents.
Bakare who interjected between Yoruba and English languages warned “how can you be selling in the middle of a highway or moving your wares very close to the road with trailers running on this expressway?
“Government said we should sensitise and beg you. Please stop risking your lives. We are constructing this road for you and some people are risking their own lives selling here’’.
“God forbid that a trailer veers off the road or falls from this bridge, what do you think would happen to all of you here considering your huge number?’’ he warned.
Bakare condemned the manager of a petrol station, along Sapade on the Ogun axis who damaged newly constructed drains; while using newly constructed drains and road setbacks as parking space for articulated vehicles.
“You are destroying the kerbs, chutes, and now this drain that we just constructed to prevent your filling station from flooding, I will write my report about this and forward to Abuja,’’ Umar said.
He also advised several youth traders who used the unemployment as excuse to approach their various local governments towards securing safe zones for commercial activities instead of the highways.
Also, the Federal Controller of Works in Lagos, Mr Olukayode Popoola represented by Mr Adewale Adebote, said the huge abuse of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and underneath the bridges was worrisome.
Popoola expressed satisfaction that the positive responses from those encroaching on the highway would change the tide because some of them were not aware that their activities have negative impact on the road.
“We are currently at Iwo Road Interchange where you have motor parks and other services, this is a major terminal in Ibadan and you can see how dangerous it is for people to trade here on the road,’’he said.
Popoola said that the Minister for Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola gave a directive for the awareness campaign on the dangers of roads abuses, adding that, the highway laws would be implemented thereafter.
The Federal Controller of Works in Oyo State, Mr Kayode Ibrahim who led a sensitisation campaign in his domain said that government was serious now about recovery of its Right of Way (RoW).
“We are here to sensitise the general public particularly those who are occupying the RoW of our roads illegally to desist from it, we are sensitising them so that they can move from there,’’ he said.
Ibrahim said the exercise was to make residents understand the dangers to both themselves and the highway to extract willing compliance by appealing to them because government did not want to use force.
He said that the collaboration of the three states would ensure better result during the sensitisation through the various stages to return sanity to the road.
NAN reports that the two-day trip began in Lagos on Wednesday and was concluded at Ojoo in Ibadan on Thursday with residents given opportunities to bare their minds and clear their confusions.
Senior engineers in the team gave out fliers, placed seal of removal notices on shanties, abandoned vehicles, wares, fences and other facilities encroaching on the RoW.
They used public address system to blare out messages in the three major indigenous languages, English and Pidgin on the dangers of abuse on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway undergoing reconstruction and rehabilitation.
The delegation discussed with mechanics, spare part dealers, traders, business owners and various artisans involved in various activities on road setbacks and under the bridges.
They issued warnings and educated the people on the approved road setback for filling stations, fences and other buildings along the highway.
They explained that after the sensitisation exercise, quit notices would be served and a date for demolition communicated should those who are liable refuse to obey the government.
Filling stations and other businesses encroaching on the RoW were served notices and educated on approved road set back which is 150ft or 45.72 metres from the median on the road.
A business owner who presented documents was advised to remain within limits specified in the survey, while others who claimed to have legally binding agreements were advised to tender such papers to the Federal Controllers of their respective states.
Those living under bridges were asked to vacate for both their safety and that of the bridges, while petroleum products retailers were told how their activities caused quick road degeneration. (NAN)