On Sunday 18th December 2011 whilst I was reading the news alerts on my phone, I learnt that the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos island had finally become functional and that there was also a peaceful-turned-violent protest going on at the same location. I’m not 100 percent certain but I strongly believe that the protesters consisted of two groups, namely:
– Those who didn’t want to pay up to N120 each way because it was ‘expensive’, and;
– Those who didn’t want to pay…period
Despite not being a protester myself, I also have my own reservations about this mammoth project undertaken by the LCC (Lekki Concession Company) and supported by the Lagos State governor, Babatunde Fashola.
It is taking a toll on my health. I should know better because I work at the tail end of Lekki. Already, I have to drag myself out of bed at 5am. Now I’ve been blessed with the unwanted privilege of having to wake up even earlier for my Ikeja-Lekki journey…say around 4.45am. Whilst I bang my big toe around my flat as I fight the invisible Sleep Demons, I must attempt to locate and put on matching socks and a matching suit (i.e. not a black jacket with grey trousers as I’ve done after losing to the Sleep Demons once). The best part is trying to drive at 80kmh to work whilst fighting Sleep Demons at the same time (eat your heart out Vin Diesel!). The strain and the stress kicks in when I enter the 1st phase of traffic on Apongbo. Blood pressure gradually begins to rise as you enter the 2nd phase of traffic at the link between Marina and Ikoyi/Bonny Camp route. The 3rd and latest addition to the ‘traffic franchise’ is the Lekki phase 1 roundabout – brought to you by the LCC. By the time I reach my destination I frantically look everywhere in my car for my misplaced happy-face.
It is restricting my movement during working hours. The moment I get into my office I barely have enough time to celebrate my punctuality before having to jump right back into the traffic to meet clients. Since I suffer from car-sickness I’m without the luxury of being able to read and respond to emails or text messages whilst in the passenger seat. I make more phone calls instead and that equates to much higher phone bills. I have to leave much earlier for appointments now just so the traffic build-up doesn’t embarrass me. What can I say? If P.Diddy invented the Remix then Lagosians invented Traffic (and subsequently invented the word ‘trafficate’ which is locally used and is not in any dictionary). I’ve also had to learn new shortcuts that would replace the once-discreet shortcuts that have suddenly become widely known overnight. After work you can expect that I would have to leave later than I usually do in order to avoid wasting my time, my petrol and my Blackberry’s wack battery life.
Last but not least, the timing is completely wrong. There is a bridge that is supposedly being built within Lekki Phase 1 which is meant to link Lekki to Ikoyi. If only this bridge was ready before the launch of the toll gate then traffic would ease up a notch. The Lekki toll gate collection had already been delayed for over a year so I don’t think waiting another year would have seriously hurt the State government’s pocket. We barely have enough road networks (or efficient ones at that) and the current state of traffic from the Lekki Phase 1 all the way past Law School on my way back home begs the question, ‘Is the Lekki Toll Gate really necessary?’ I thought of adding some pictures to cement my point but on second thoughts some readers may have found these images disturbing and unsuitable for drivers plying the Lekki axis, especially the ones already suffering from high BP (both high Blood Pressure and high Bill Payments).
My stance on the whole toll gate project has been to only support it if the fee is reasonably priced and if it reduces traffic. Since it appears that I’ve observed neither (at least for now) I guess you don’t have to be a pro to be able to guess that I’m anti 😉
So, you have been warned. Proceed at your peril and pay the toll…literally.