The blaring horns from the heavy vehicular traffic did not deter her nor did carbon emissions from trucks on the road, sometimes released directly on her face, discourage her. Each time she has to run after a prospective customer in a moving vehicle, it is done with such vitality that keeps an onlooker gazing. This is the daily routine that Funmilayo Omokoya, a fruit hawker at the Orile-Iganmu end of the Lagos–Badagry Expressway, has now adapted to.
Omokoya’s trade has now received a further boost with the ongoing Lagos–Badagry Expressway reconstruction project aimed at providing a world-class highway of 10 lanes, a Bus Rapid Transit, BRT, route, and a metro line. The ongoing 10-lane expansion of the road project is divided into three lots. Lot 1 is from Eric Moore in Surulere to Mile 2, which is about 7.5 kilometres. And lot 2 is from Mile 2 to Agbara, which is about 28 kilometres, while lot 3 is from Agbara to Badagry.
The project, being undertaken by the Lagos State government, on completion, will ferry millions of commuters to and fro the outskirts of the state to the heart of the city. According to Omokoya, prior to the commencement of the project, she earned daily revenue of about N300 from selling any fruit in season to motorists held in traffic jam. Now, with the traffic more intense due to the construction work, Omokoya’s revenue has more than doubled, giving her an average of about N15,000 per month. “I thank God for this construction work; it has been a blessing to me as I now sell more than before this work started,” she told the magazine, as she peeled her oranges in readiness for the next customer. From the proceeds she earns, Omokoya is able to pay the school fees of three of her children in a private primary school. Similarly, Moses Ikechukwu, an artisan, has since abandoned his welding work and taken to selling second-hand clothes in traffic along the Agboju axis of the expressway. This was a choice he had to make having realised that lack of electric power had rendered him jobless.
But while the duo of Omokoya and Ikechukwu may be happy with their newly found trade, the earnings are gradually being eroded with the increasing cost of living, especially in property cost, along that axis. Alfa Isah, a resident in Orile-Iganmu regrets that though the road works is a good development for the state, it has led to an increase in the cost of house rent. For instance, Isah explained that prior to the commencement of construction work, a room of 10 feet by 12 feet in the area costs N2,000 monthly. This, he said, has since increased by as much as 50 per cent. Reasons for this are numerous. For instance, with the demolition of houses and other properties along the corridor to pave way for the project, some owners of properties that escaped demolition cashed in on the situation to make higher returns on their property. Our findings revealed that between Orile-Iganmu and Agboju, a room now costs as much as N3,000 monthly. Besides, the demand for accommodation has since exceeded what is available, thus making house available only to the highest bidder.
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