Fear Envelops Residents as Dangerous Touts Loom Large in Lagos
Current State of Obafemi Awolowo Road Bridge Underlines Community’s ConcernsFear has taken hold among residents and passers-by in the vicinity of the Obafemi Awolowo Road bridge in Ikeja, Lagos, as reports emerge of the area becoming a gathering point for both criminal elements and individuals struggling with mental health challenges.Despite the vigilant efforts of the Lagos State Task Force, the location colloquially known as Ikeja Under Bridge has evolved into a dual-purpose space—simultaneously a haven for petty traders, particularly during the evening hours, and a hotspot for unsavory characters.In a notable contrast, Governor Babajide Sanwoolu initiated a comprehensive overhaul in 2020, successfully restoring a sense of order to the bridge’s surroundings. However, recent observations paint a concerning picture, as the area has regressed to its previous state, pre-intervention.During a firsthand visit on Monday, our correspondent uncovered a deeply rooted unease amongst commuters traversing the bridge, particularly after nightfall, largely due to the intimidating presence of a group of menacing individuals displaying signs of substance abuse or intoxication.Moreover, it has come to light that street vendors pay a toll to these disruptive elements, granting them permission to peddle their wares under the bridge’s structure.According to Omobolanle, a vendor who shared her account, the bridge’s shadowy figures subject innocent passers-by to instances of nocturnal sexual harassment, coupled with frequent theft of personal belongings. She expressed deep concern over the perils of being in proximity to the bridge during late hours or early mornings.”It’s an inherently risky environment here at night. I’ve personally witnessed distressing incidents such as sexual harassment, and cases of stolen phones and wallets. The peril of loitering around the bridge after dark or in the early hours of the day cannot be overstated,” Omobolanle recounted.Among the individuals inhabiting the bridge’s underbelly, Sola, who willingly shared his story, disclosed that necessity drove him to adopt this makeshift residence due to the exorbitant cost of securing a rented accommodation.”Affording a place to stay in Lagos is an ongoing challenge. The cost of living is exorbitant, and a lot of us lack the financial means to secure a rented apartment. It’s not a choice but rather a situation we find ourselves in. We remain hopeful that someday we will attain the means to own our homes or afford rental accommodations,” Sola expressed.While attempts were made to solicit a response from the State Police Public Relations Officer, Benjamin Hundeyin, our endeavors proved fruitless. As of the time of filing this report, calls to his phone went unanswered, and messages dispatched remained unacknowledged.