Nigeria: Epileptic Streetlights Worsening Insecurity in Lagos

24 February 2019

Streetlights are critical utilities in contemporary cities because of the immense benefits they provide. For instance, apart from promoting security in urban areas, they also enhance safety for drivers, riders, and pedestrians, in addition to increasing the quality of life by artificially "extending the hours."

Unfortunately, streetlights are increasingly becoming ornamental in many parts of Lagos State as they are either non-functional even on major roads or are working in fits and starts. Expectedly, this trend of epileptic services has heightened incidence of insecurity across the state.

In fact, traffic robbers, street urchins and other criminal elements are taking advantage of the poor illumination on these roads to rob, dispossess and maim innocent and unsuspecting persons at night.This development has caused many to question what has become of the state government's "Light Up Lagos Project," which was launched by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode in 2016.

Built on a tripod consisting the Light Up Lagos Advisory Committee; Community Electrification, and the Street Lighting Initiative, the Light Up Lagos package formed part of the state's security strategy, all aimed at making the state competitive, safe and secure, according to the Governor.

But just over two years ago, major roads and streets that enjoyed some level of illumination have again been thrown into total or partial darkness, due to poor maintenance, lack of attention or a combination of the two. In some cases, vandalisation of such installations have led to permanent darkness in parts of the state.There are also a few instances where the blackout is due to ongoing construction works, which have necessitated the bringing down of lamp stands.

But the situation in some other areas is inconveniencing passersby, just as it is giving residents sleepless nights, as it constitutes serious security concerns. It would be recalled that Zik's House (Ile Zik) in Ikeja, up to the old Sango Tollgate on the Lagos/Abeokuta Expressway, Murtala Mohammed International Airport Road down to Oshodi, and Agege road are currently under construction, a development that has temporarily plunged these area into darkness.

From Abule Egba to Ekoro Junction and from Ekoro Junction to Ile-Epo Oja (under Agbado-Oke/Odo Local Council Development Area (LCDA) are all in darkness in the last seven months.Initially, it was understood that a faulty power generating plant was the main issue, but that appears not to be the case because after the power generating set was replaced, the area still remains darkness.

Even, the streetlights on Abule-Egba Jubilee Bridge, which was commissioned only two years ago, are no more working regularly, thereby putting the lives of pedestrians, motorists and roadside traders at risk.The same scenario plays out from Charity Bus Stop, Oshodi, to Ilasamaja Bus Stop along the Oshodi/Apapa Expressway. Since this stretch of the road was lit up barely one and a half year ago, it has been a very poor example of how streetlights should work, coming alive on the basis of one-day-on, one-day-off.

A good number of times, the situation gets so bad that they remain off for several days, especially the stretch between Toyota Bus Stop, Five-Star Bus Stop and Iyana Isolo Bus Stop. This unfortunate development usually allows robbers and street urchins to return to Toyota Bus Stop to ply their nefarious trade.

For motorists, commuters and pedestrians who hitherto had a delightful experience around Oke-Koto/Afa Nla, in the Agege area of the state, those days are now gone as the streetlights have failed to come alive regularly.When The Guardian visited the area last week, the whole stretch linking Pen Cinema and Iyana-Ipaja were in pit darkness. Areas like Agidingbi and ACME roads in Ikeja, Allen Avenue-Opebi Road are among lucky areas that the streetlights are still managing to come on.

For several months between 2017 and 2018, residents of Sadiku Street, in the Papa Ajao area of Mushin Local Council saw the lampstands along the whole stretch of street as ornaments as they never blinked. It was towards the end of the year that the streetlights suddenly came alive.

Those erected along the Isolo Road (from Iyana Isolo up to Ojuwoye Market in Mushin) also do not come on as often as expected. A commercial driver, who lamented the epileptic nature of streetlights in the state, said some of the accidents that occur at night would have been avoided if streetlights were constantly on. He added that criminals also use the cover of darkness to rob them of their entire earnings for the day when they get to very dark spots on some routes that are less busy, even as he pointed out that some of the faulty streetlights were as a result of vandalisation of these installations by criminal elements in the society.

"If you are on Nureni Yusuf in Agbado Kollington, you'll discover that all the streetlights in the whole stretch are no more functional. Some vandals in the area have stolen the cables supplying light to the lamps."About a year ago, the state Commissioner for Information, Mr. Kehinde Bamigbetan, while still serving as Special Adviser to the Governor on Communities & Communications, assured that Community Development Association (CDAs), have been tasked to report the performance of streetlights in their neighbourhoods. It appears not much came out of that endeavour.

Oluronbi Ojo, an electrical engineer, attributed the epileptic nature of streetlights to the high cost of keeping the power generating plants running constantly, adding that it was the major reason for repeated outages.He, however, expressed concerns about the situation at Toyota Bus Stop, where he alleged that robbers operating around that axis have been responsible for destroying the streetlights, which have been hindering their criminal activities. Ojo appealed to the state government to do everything possible to ensure that the streetlights function when they should in order to secure life, and properties, a development he said would further boost the state's economy.

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