Community Focus: When It Rains In Agbado
The rainy season is here in full force. For farmers and food producers, rain, among other things, is a natural blessing that waters their crops and sustains their animals. However, for some communities – particularly those located in rural or rural-urban areas -rainy season brings with it pain and worry because of its damaging impact on their businesses, properties and environment.
Alagbado (or “Agbado” as it is popularly called), a large community that sits at the border of Lagos and Ogun State, Nigeria, fits this picture.
Agbado inhabits thousands of people from different geo-political zones of Nigeria, but the Yoruba tribe dominates it. A larger part of this community is underdeveloped and damaged by flood. For residents, business owners, roadside traders and transporters in the community, the rain is a blessing and a curse. This is because the roads linking the community to other parts of the states are very bad and almost impossible to drive through.
It is a common sight to see vehicles come to a sudden halt in muddy water, which has also flooded some houses along the road. Motorcycles often tumble while the riders try to maneuver their way round potholes that have been covered by the flood.
As early as 4.00am, civil servants, business owners and even students schooling in the city leave their homes to make the long commute into Lagos.
When it rains; commercial motorcyclists and vehicle owners increase the transport fare – sometimes doubling the amount. They do this knowing that passengers have limited choice, as they would not want to trek back to their destinations.
“Whenever there is rain fall or if [it] suddenly gets cloudy, we know we are in trouble. The commercial tricycle and bus owners working in this area will immediately inflate the price,” says Yinka Odubote, a commuter living in the community.
According to residents, the road has been bad for a long time and members of the community have overtime leveled the pot-holes on the road with stones and sands. The effect has however remained largely unsuccessful.
Yinka traced the poor state of the road to early 2000s.
“My family actually moved into the area in 1999. But as far as I could remember the roads in Agbado have been so bad, especially the Idi-Ope area. I can’t say the exact time when the road became this bad but I know that the road has been like this since around 2003,” she said.
Describing her ordeal as a regular commuter on the road, Yinka said: “There was a day I had to go back home to change my clothes because it was totally soiled by a moving vehicle that splashed mud on [it].”
Yinka said over the years, transport fare has continued to rise and it is now a habit for her, like most people, to hold “extra change” so that they will not be stranded when returning home.
A commercial tricycle owner who works within the Agbado station and Olaogun axis of the community confirmed that when the rain comes they often increase the transport fare.
He argued that they were not being insensitive; rather they do this to raise money to repair their vehicles, which often gets damaged because of the bad road.
“There is no week when I don’t visit the mechanic’s workshop to repair one thing or the other in this Keke (the local name for tricycle).”
“They (Passengers) don’t have a choice but to patronize us… some of them have their cars but they refuse to use it to ply the road because they know the extent of the damage it would cause, so we have to share the loss together,” he said.
But the reality is not the same for Dayo, a young commercial motorcyclist who works between Agbado and Ijoko road.
“When the rain comes, I am usually unhappy. For me, it means that I have to go back home until the next day because the roads are too slippery…I cannot risk my life because of some petty change,” he said.
Meanwhile, some residents have argued over the attempt made by Government representatives of Ogun state to reconstruct the roads. They view the effort as a political gimmick to get them to vote in their favor during the coming election, which has been scheduled for the first quarter of 2015.
Nevertheless, whether the road reconstruction project commences in the coming administration or not, it will take months if not years before a feasible solution is in place.
Photos of flood taken around: Agbado crossing, Ope-ilu Ijoko road, Idi-ope, along Ijoko road
Photo credit: Busayo Sotunde