By Adeola Ogunrinde
Worried by the disturbing trend of closure of street gates across the state, the Lagos State Government on Monday ordered immediate re-opening of all street gates and barricades in the nooks and crannies of the state between 5 am and 12 midnight daily, just as it warned that defaulting streets would have their gates pulled down within the next seven days.
The state government also ordered that all street gates and barricades are now only permitted to be locked between 12 midnight and 5 am. Besides, such locked gates must be manned by security guards within the period under lock and key in case of emergencies.
Addressing journalists at the State Secretariat in Alausa, Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Community Development and Chairman of Community Affairs Advisory Council, Mr. Tajudeen Adeniyi Quadri said the decision of the state government followed series of complaints from residents on the disturbing trend of street gates and barricades.
He said there had been situations whereby fire fighters and police were prevented from getting to emergency scenes on time due to street gates and barricades as well as instances where rushing patients with emergency situations to hospital were equally frustrated.
Quadri, who addressed the briefing alongside the Commissioner for Local Government and Community Affairs, Hon. Muslim Folami; Special Adviser to the Governor on Community and Communications, Mr. Kehinde Bamigbetan, and some Chairmen of Community Development Associations (CDA), said as a responsive and responsible government, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode has directed that the restriction on closure of street gates and barricades be strictly adhere to henceforth.
Quadri said information reaching government was that gates were being locked in several places throughout the day, causing much inconveniences of residents having to walk round to get to the main road, and that some gates were deliberately locked just to prevent others from using the roads, thereby aggravating traffic situations especially in areas where such roads are meant to serve as thoroughfares or alternative link routes.
He added that most places where gates have been mounted have become environmentally unsanitary, while it had been observed that mechanics have also turned such streets to their workshops.
He recalled that the directive on street gates and barricade was initially introduced in 2009, but it was unfortunate that as years rolled by, the directive seemed to be abandoned, as more street gates were introduced even to streets that never had them before.
Besides, Quadri said some of the street gates were constructed in such a way that they could only accommodate passage of cars and not buses, adding that such was totally unacceptable to the State Government.
Quadri recalled that as part of efforts to secure lives and property, Lagosians in the early 2000 resorted to constructing street gates and setting up barricades in their streets to ward off criminals and possibly unwanted guests.
He said: This government therefore observes with caution that though the erecting and closing of these gates may be desirable, the consequences on the overall urban efficiency, aesthetics and functionality of the city and especially traffic flow poses questions difficult to answer.
These barricades, though well intended, constitutes obstruction to traffic, especially in areas, where such street gates or barricades are on roads meant to serve as thoroughfares or alternative link routes, Quadri said.
Also speaking, Folami warned that the state government would pull down gates and barricades in any defaulting streets, adding that government would not spare any CDA found wanting in strictly complying with the government directive on street gates and barricades.
He said Governor Ambode was very sensitive to issues affecting the communities and recalled the recent flag off of the construction of 114 roads across the 57 councils in the State, as well as the massive security infrastructure put in place to secure the State.
In view of the challenges posed by the unrestricted erection of street gates, the State Government is revisiting the directive on the gates and barricades. Any contravention of this directive will attract necessary punishment for defaulters, Folami said.