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Date Published: 10/27/09

IGP Onovo please save commuters along Lagos-Benin Expressway By Joe Igbokwe


Lagos-Ore Benin expressway (no former expressway) remains the undisputed busiest road in Nigeria. Built almost 35 years ago, the road is now the most dangerous road in the whole of Africa. Since the past 15 years, users of that road have been losing more than  200million Naira every month, and countless number of lives with no end in sight. Traveling on that road in the past 15 years has become a nightmare, a shame that has refused to go away, a shame that will continue to prick the conscience of Nigerian leaders, the open sore of the Nigerian nation and a reminder that Nigeria
is a failed state.

A journey from Lagos to Onitsha that is supposed to take 5 hours now takes almost a whole day and sometimes if something untoward happens you could pass a night on that terrible road. To make matters worse, all kinds of uniformed personnel ranging from the mobile police to ordinary police, from customs to highway patrol police, and from soldiers to local government criminals who take advantage of the bad road to extort money from commuters in the name of revenue drive. On a certain day, I counted over 100 police check-points from Shagamu to Benin-one kilometer to one check-point. Their targets are private car owners-mainly Igbo traders going home for one thing or the other. They line them up and pretend to be checking the papers. A simple mistake of failing to write a number or a letter properly on your vehicle particulars will cause you to lose an hour or two or pay a stipulated amount ranging from N2,000 to N20,000. Some desperate traders eager to get home as early as possible pay more. Those who come to Lagos to buy Tokunbo vehicles are waylaid on Lagos Ore-Benin road and they pay through their noses to take the vehicles to their destinations. The one that annoy me most is the fierce looking men around Okitipupa and very close to Benin claiming to be working for the local governments, who forcefully stop vehicles with sharp objects, taking advantage of pot holes on the highway to extort money from travelers.


I know some young men who have sold their cars and resorted to taking public transport because they are tired of harassment and intimidation from these uniformed personnel. Lagos-Ore-Benin expressway has become the most policed road in the history of Nigeria. I agree that there is massive movement of goods from Lagos to the South East, South West and South South on a daily basis, more than any other road in Nigeria. I, acknowledge the fact that the criminals have made that corridor their haven, I also appreciate the fact that many smugglers use that route a lot. But we can police the corridor without the big problem we create for commuters. The security demand of the road has provided an avenue for corrupt officers to rob the ordinary Nigerians of hard-earned money and other belongings and time has come for us to address the problem. The extortion must stop, the daylight robbery must stop, the harassment and intimidation must stop. If the heavy police presence on that axis is to provide security, I support it whole heartedly but if it is to be used as a cover up to rob the ordinary Nigerians, IGP Onovo must look into this. This is time to clear the mess on that road.

To make matters worse, these security personnel have devised another crude method of blocking part of the road with all kinds of things ranging from logs of wood, used tyres, sharp irons, to abandoned vehicles etc thereby making the road more ugly and dangerous. IGP Onovo, please tell the police to remove these obstacles so as not to add more troubles to the already bad situation. This is the time to rescue the road from criminals and hand it back to the real owners. The long sufferings they subject innocent Nigerians everyday must stop.

Joe Igbokwe

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