A looming pandemic


That the Mile 2 axis of Oshodi-Apapa expressway has become an unofficial truck park is no longer news. That the presence of the trucks has created excruciating experience for motorists using the road is possibly a normal daily occurrence now. It is no longer new to us and people have developed all kinds of coping mechanism for this anomaly. Whilst it is possible for many Lagosians to avoid the area and escape the frustrating experience that comes with plying the road, the inhabitants of the area are condemned to the bad experience and many other dangerous effects of this unofficial trailer park. It will be erroneous to think that the only consequence of perpetual parking of trucks on that road is traffic jam; there is more to it. The area is not only an adapted park for truckers; it has also been converted to transit hub where they live the way every normal human being would live. They eat, sleep, urinate and defecate in the area with no sense of shame or responsibility, and continue to pollute the environment and the air in a depressing manner.

As a result, the people that live in this environment have to deal with the carbon monoxide that is emitted from the trucks and the dangerous substances that emanate from the heaps of waste that now adorn the area. It is very easy to blame the truck drivers for the barbarous behaviour in a metropolitan city like Lagos. However, we often forget that the truckers do not have a place specifically equipped to accommodate all the trucks waiting to access the port. More so, they have to stay close to their trucks because no one knows the actual moment the road will be cleared for them to gain access into the port for business. Besides, fifteen minutes away from the truck is enough for criminals to execute their illicit activities. In other words, the drivers are also victims of circumstance. They are victims just as much as road users and inhabitants of the area are.

We would want to believe that a workable solution to this challenge is for the government to deploy security personnel to the area to restore order. But the sad reality is that the security officials do not want this nuisance to go away because it will significantly affect their daily means of earning extra cash. They extort the drivers at every opportunity and collude with criminals to carry out unwholesome acts. The security officials do not care if the truckers continue to behave in an uncultured manner even at the detriment of the inhabitants of the area. The consequence of the unabated misbehaviour is an environment that is extremely dirty, unkempt, contaminated and dangerous to healthy living. We are currently faced with a potential pandemic and we seem unbothered as a people. The situation is further compounded by the growing heaps of waste that have suddenly branded the Lagos metropolis. Medical experts have lamented that the continued exposure to carbon monoxide can lead to contracting all kinds of disease including hypoxia, hypertension, cancer and heat stroke.

It is understandable that health challenges are inevitable to humans, and it is incumbent on us all to take care of ourselves individually. However, it is an indictment on a government, whose primary responsibility to the citizen is the protection of lives, when preventable diseases are allowed to fester in a sane environment. Many inhabitants of these areas have become vulnerable to health challenges. The people that have relocated from Mile 2 and adjoining towns are the ones that could afford it. But for those that are probably living in the only property they inherited from their ancestors, there is no respite in sight. It is as though they have been neglected to suffer till the day they may no longer be able to breathe.

We are currently provoking an emergency and the earlier we realise the better for us. Whilst we expect the government to expedite action on providing lasting solution to the hazard of truck drivers on the busy roads, we implore the state government to step up on cleanliness in Lagos, especially Mile 2 axis. We cannot expect the federal government to keep Lagos clean; this is the responsibility of the state and local governments. There is no gainsaying that the air pollution in this area is getting worse by the day and dangerous to human health. We need to act fast before a significant population of Lagosians are consumed by our inactions.

The current situation again brings to the fore our disposition to human lives in Nigeria. We are still grappling with Lassa fever which is a product of unhygienic environment. Yet we have all the opportunity at our disposal to prevent the outbreak of another pandemic and we have chosen to put on a garment of insipidity. This is a wakeup call for the government to rejig the sanitation and environmental architecture of the state.


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