By Dada Jackson
The Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway has become a nightmare for motorists and commuters alike who ply that road as a result of the unending gridlock along that corridor.
The road, which links Lagos with Ogun State, has over the years become so bad that motorists who ply it have nasty and agonising tales to recount on a daily basis.
Sometime in March 2018, the contract for the reconstruction of the road was flagged off at ground zero by Zik bus stop, very close to Ikeja Along bus stop.
The contract for the reconstruction of the road was awarded to Julius Berger (Nig.) Plc.
According to the then Director of Highways (South-West), Engineer Adebiyi, the provision for the funding of the project,was already captured in that year’s budget.
Two years on reconstruction work is yet to commence on the critical road which connects two neighbouring states of Lagos and Ogun.
It is pertinent to point out that about four months ago Julius Berger moved their equipment and some personnel to embark on some reconstruction work between Kola bus stop and Abukon bus stop.
The essence of commencing work from that point,is unclear to those who ply the road.
Some motorists and commuters who spoke with newstrends lamented the number of man hours that are wasted plying that route.
A commercial bus driver of the popular yellow painted faragon buses who gave his name as Sikiru said that sometimes it takes him more than two hours to commute between Tollgate and Kola bus stop due to the terrible and dilapidated state of the road.
According to him,in order to avoid the gridlock, he takes some inner streets so as to beat the traffic.
He said that because of the time they spend in the traffic, most of his fellow drivers hike transport fares in order to make up for the list hours.
Speaking in similar vein,a private car owner,who gave his name as Dr.Michael(surname withheld)said that government should mobilize the contractor working on the road for in his words” the pace of work on the road is very slow. Julius Berger should add more pep to the pace of work on the road as motorists and commuters alike are going through excruciating pain plying the road “.
He however commended the contractor for doing a very thorough job on the road up to the point that they have worked to.
But a textile dealer,Alhaja Risikat,who has her shop at Oshodi said that there was no ‘sense’ in starting the reconstruction work from Kola,adding that from Meiran bus stop to Casso bus stop,it is a no go area.
According to her,government should go the whole hog by fixing the road at least from U-Turn bus stop to Tollgate.
She said that in order to beat the traffic on the road,she leaves her house everyday by 4.30am.
The Federal Controller of Works,Lagos,Engineer Kayode Popoola told this reporter sometime ago,that Julius Berger was mobilized to fix the very bad portions between Kola and Abukon bus stops because of the uproar generated by the incessant falling of articulated vehicles along that axis.
According to him,Messrs Julius Berger has been mandated to do a thorough job on the very bad portions of the road.
He said” knowing the pedigree of Julius Berger,they will deliver a good and thorough job in line with the mandate given to them.
He said that he was optimistic, that something would soon be done on the reconstruction of the total length of the road.
He appealed ho motorists and commuters plying the route, to exercise more patience as the reconstruction would soon be completed.
NiMet predicts cloudiness, thunderstorm across Nigeria
The Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) has predicted cloudiness and thunderstorm from Sunday to Tuesday across the country.
NiMet`s weather outlook released on Saturday in Abuja predicted sunny skies with patches of clouds over the northern region with few thunderstorms over Taraba in the morning hours.
According to it, there are prospects of isolated thunderstorms over parts of Taraba, Adamawa and Kaduna later in the day.
“Partly cloudy skies are anticipated over the North central region with prospects of thunderstorms over part of Benue during the morning hours.
“There are chances of thunderstorms over parts of Kwara, Kogi, Plateau and the Federal Capital Territory in the afternoon to evening period.
“Isolated thunderstorms are expected over some southern states like Ondo, Edo, Imo, Enugu, Ogun, Osun, Delta, Cross River, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Lagos in the morning hours,“ it said.
The agency forecast thunderstorms over parts of Imo, Ondo, Osun and the coastal belt of the country later in the day.
NiMet envisages partly cloudy to sunny skies on Monday over the Northern region throughout the day with prospects of a few thunderstorms over parts of Taraba and Adamawa states in the afternoon and evening hours.
It anticipates cloudy skies with intervals of sunshine over the North central region in the morning hours.
“Further into the day, thunderstorms are anticipated over parts of Niger, Kogi, Nasarawa, Kwara, Benue and the Federal Capital Territory.
“The inland and the coastal cities of the South should be cloudy with prospects of thunderstorms over Bayelsa, Cross River, Rivers and Akwa Ibom states in the morning hours.
“Later in the day, there are prospects of isolated thunderstorms over parts of Ondo, Edo, Enugu, Ogun and the coastal belt of the country,“ it said.
NiMet predicts partly cloudy to sunny skies over the Northern region throughout the forecast period on Tuesday.
It further predicted partly cloudy skies over the North central region in the morning hours with isolated thunderstorms over parts of Benue, Kogi and Kwara states in the afternoon and evening hours.
“The inland and the coastal cities of the South should be predominantly cloudy during the morning hours.
“Later in the day, there are chances of thunderstorms over parts of Ondo, Imo, Edo and the coastal cities,“ it said.
WHO reports global shortfall in mental health investment
The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) new Mental Health Atlas paints a disappointing picture of a worldwide failure to provide people with the mental health services they need.
In a statement made available on Saturday, it said it happened at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic was highlighting a growing need for mental health support.
“World misses most 2020 mental health targets; extension of WHO Mental Health Action Plan to 2030 provides new opportunity for progress reading time, four minutes (1003 words).
“The latest edition of the atlas, which includes data from 171 countries, provides a clear indication that the increased attention given to mental health in recent years has yet to result in a scale-up of quality mental services that is aligned with needs,” the global health agency said.
According to WHO, the Atlas is a compilation of data provided by countries around the world on mental health policies, issued every three years.
Others are legislation, financing, human resources, availability and utilisation of services and data collection systems.
According to the global health body, it is also the mechanism for monitoring progress towards meeting the targets in WHO’s Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan.
“It is extremely concerning that, despite the evident and increasing need for mental health services, which has become even more acute during the COVID-19 pandemic, good intentions are not being met with investment.
“We must heed and act on this wake-up call and dramatically accelerate the scale-up of investment in mental health, because there is no health without mental health,” it quoted Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of WHO, as saying.
The statement said that none of the targets for effective leadership and governance for mental health, provision of mental health services in community-based settings, mental health promotion and prevention, and strengthening of information systems, were close to being achieved.
It said that in 2020, just 51 per cent of WHO’s 194 member states reported that their mental health policy or plan was in line with international and regional human rights instruments, way short of the 80 per cent target.
It said that only 52 per cent of countries met the target relating to mental health promotion and prevention programmes, also well below the 80 per cent target.
WHO noted that the only 2020 target met was a reduction in the rate of suicide by 10 per cent, but even then, only 35 countries said they had a stand-alone prevention strategy, policy or plan.
It said that steady progress was evident, however, in the adoption of mental health policies, plans and laws, as well as in improvements in capacity to report on a set of core mental health indicators.
It said that, however, the percentage of government health budgets spent on mental health has scarcely changed during the last years, still hovering around two per cent.
Vigilante Group Kills Imam, 10 Others In Sokoto
Gunmen suspected to be members of the outlawed Yan Sakai, a vigilance group in Sokoto State, have killed 11 persons, including an Imam, at Mamande village in Gwadabawa local government of Sokoto State.
Our reporter gathered that the victims died on the spot while four persons who sustained gunshot injuries were taken to a hospital by the local government council for treatment.
The Imam who was identified as Malam Aliyu was said to be leading prayers in one of the daily prayer Mosques in Salame.
The incident happened at about 3:30pm on Thursday.
The victims were said to have come from different Fulani settlements around the area to purchase food and other items at the weekly Mamande market.
The Yan Sakai were said to have stormed the market from Goronyo Local Government Area, attacking the victims whom they accused of aiding banditry.
A relative of the Imam, Abdullahi Riskuwa, said his brother was killed unjustifiably because he never had any criminal record.
“He is sound in religion knowledge and had been leading prayers in one of our mosques in Salame town.”
“His only sin was that he belonged to the Fulani tribe.”
According to Riskuwa, Imam Aliyu only went to the market to buy goods when he was killed.
Among those killed at the market, he said, were children and the Yan Sakai went away with their animals.
He called on the government to investigate the matter with a view to bringing the perpetrators to book.
The state chairman of Miyeti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, could not be reached for comment as his telephone line was not reachable when our correspondent attempted to speak with him.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of Gwadabawa local government, Aminu Aya, confirmed the attack, saying the Yan Sakai were not from Gwadabawa.
According to him, the deceased were deposited at the Morgue of Specialist Hospital, Sokoto, and some of their relatives went there to recover their corpses.
He however, said that, normalcy was restored in the area.
When contacted, the Public Relation Officer of Sokoto Police Command, ASP Sanusi Abubakar, said he had not briefed about the development but promised to get the details and call back.
However, he had not done so as at the time of filling this report.
Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal had prohibited the activities of Yan Sakai in the state.
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