A pedestrian wooden bridge connecting Ogun and Lagos states at Ayetuntun, Ado-Odo Ota Local Government area, is causing apprehension to users as it has lately been taken over by hoodlums, who are coercing pedestrians to pay N50 while motorists part with N200/N300.
Residents of the area have therefore called on the Ogun State government to bring development closer to the people by constructing a concrete bridge in the area and establishing other social infrastructure that would make life bearable for them. It was gathered that there are no hospitals, schools, polling units, or police posts in Ayetuntun at the moment.
The bridge links residents in the Ogun sleepy community into Kola, Meiran, Command, and Abule Egba areas of Lagos, which serves as an alternative to the deplorable Lagos-Abeokuta expressway.
When The Guardian visited the area at the weekend, residents lamented how they had been beaten, harassed, and denied access to the bridge because they were unable to pay the toll of N50 per person.
Chairman of Ayetuntun Community Development Association (CDA), Chief Bashorun Olawale, while expressing dismay at what the community is losing to the extortion, said the situation had made many tenants and shop owners relocate from the area.
“No one is coming here to rent shops or houses anymore. The money we are paying for the pedestrian bridge is too much. Originally, we had tasked ourselves to construct a wooden bridge, which we were comfortable with before some people representing a body, Linear Edge Investment, to expand the bridge. When they came, they never consulted anybody in the community or presented any agreement that on completion, pedestrians would be taxed before using the bridge.
“When we saw them destroying our bridge for their own construction, we protested but the family who sold lands to us here shunned us. They said we have no business with the bridge, that we should focus on our houses. We further protested why we have to pay to get to our houses, but they overpowered us,” he said.
One of the residents noted that the bridge is usually closed by 11:00 p.m. which had endangered the lives of residents during emergencies, especially at midnight.
“The new construction is done in such a way that nobody can access the route, whereas the community came about the project as a means to make life easier for residents at no cost since each house contributed towards the project,” he said.
The residents have therefore called on the Ogun State government to make its presence felt in the area by constructing a bridge that would be to the benefit of tax-paying residents while ending the current extortion.