TODAY marks the 14th year since the January 27, 2002 bomb blast occurred that rocked the Ikeja Military Cantonment in Lagos. The history was horrendous in the chequered history of Lagos and the entire nation.
As the bombs exploded, the city was thrown into confusion. Every part of the metropolis felt the pangs of the explosion. The farther away one was from the site, the more it appeared the blast was happening next door.
It was like an apocalyptic scene on that Black Sunday 14 years ago. At about 5:15pm, triggered by a fire outbreak in the nearby Mammy Market, high caliber bombs stored in the armoury of the cantonment began to detonate. There were loud explosions in quick successions. Thousands became homeless after fleeing from their homes; many others lost their means of livelihood. The restless city of Lagos suddenly went to sleep.
However, the most horrific consequence was the human casualties that resulted from the disaster. Till date, no one knows the exact number of persons that lost their lives, though no fewer than 1,000 people drowned and perished in the Oke-Afa canal concealed by water hyacinth, while attempting to escape the uncertain calamity.
The ghosts of the tragedy were finally buried and Ajao Estate never remained the same. The once quiet estate lost its serenity to the flowing traffic from Ejigbo, Ikotun, Ijegun, Isolo up to Iba, Ojo and other parts of Lagos, shortening travel time to Airport Road and Oshodi
At long last after several years of waiting, victims of the bomb blast have not died in vain. First they got a befitting well-managed cenotaph built at the mass burial site, then the street adjoining the canal was renamed January 27, a Primary Healthcare Centre in Ejigbo was named January 27 and in honour of the victims, a link bridge connecting Ejigbo to Ajao Estate was built and also named January 27 as a fitting acknowledgment of the sacrifices of those who died, to keep their memories in perpetuity.
The ghosts of the tragedy were finally buried and Ajao Estate never remained the same. The once quiet estate lost its serenity to the flowing traffic from Ejigbo, Ikotun, Ijegun, Isolo up to Iba, Ojo and other parts of Lagos, shortening travel time to Airport Road and Oshodi. The estate was not ready for the influx of motorists plying through the area. No sooner was the link bridge constructed before major access roads began to pave way to constant pressure.
Chi Limited, a fast-moving consumer goods company that provides products in the diary, beverages and snacks sectors, came to the rescue of its host community by constructing one of the hitherto most dilapidated roads within the estate which had been a nightmare to motorists and had reduced the positive impact the bridges were meant to engender.
The construction of Ati Okoye Street, which gulped several millions of Naira from design to completion, is a laudable Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative that has brought huge relief to thousands of road users. The project, built to modern standard approved by the Lagos State government under strict supervision by its Engineers, is equipped with solid drainage, pedestrian walkway and streetlights.
Apart from this new construction, Chi Limited has gone further to rehabilitate the main access road inwards the bridges coming from Asa Afariogun Street through Eleganza junction down to Chivita Avenue as well as part of Ajibade Babatola so there is a ring of good, motorable road in that part of the estate.
Commenting on the company’s efforts and plans, the Executive Director, Mr. Jerome Shogbon said the company decided to take up the project in response to the needs of the community. “As a responsible company, we embarked on this quality construction work in furtherance of our CSR gestures within our host community and in keeping with our public avowment to partner with the state government by constructing the road to complement the Ajao Estate-Ejigbo link bridges which were commissioned by former Governor Fashola exactly two years ago.
“The road will definitely shorten travel time by more than 50 per cent. As can be seen on site at present, contractors are still busy erecting electricity poles as the plan is to have the whole area well lit with streetlights to be powered from our power plant which runs on gas 24 hours.”
Narrating the ordeals faced before executing the project, the company’s Head of Administration, Mr. Oyekanmi Onagbola, said accessing the Right of Way (RoW) posed some problems. “To do community work is difficult, people don’t understand you. The community is the biggest beneficiary of this project, yet they posed the biggest obstacle while work was on.
“For example, they installed two gates at different ends of the street, which had to be demolished for the road work to get done. But they resisted stiffly before the contractors could demolish and do their work to government’s specification. Same problem we had with them at the final stage of the construction when final coat of asphalt was to be applied and there was need to close the road for 48 hours.”
The road was constructed by a Lebanese firm, Al-Mansur Construction Company.