- Community Development Associations say security is their concern
Lagos residents have expressed fresh worries over the trend of closing street gates during emergencies. They said locked gates have become a norm such that victims, who could be rescued during accident, die because responders could not have access on time.
According to them, locked gates in several streets are causing inconveniences to residents. The observed that some gates are deliberately locked just to prevent others from using the roads, thereby worsening traffic situations especially in areas where such roads are meant to serve as alternative link routes.
To ensure free movements in and around Lagos, the State, had in 2016 and last year (2020), ordered immediate re-opening of all street gates and barricades between 5a.m. and 12 mid-night. It also warned that gates in defaulting streets would be pulled down.
The government claimed that there have been situations where firefighters and police were prevented from getting to scenes on time due to street gates and barricades as well as instances where rushing patients on emergencies to hospitals were equally frustrated.
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Investigations revealed that while few complied with the directive, others have remained defiant, especially in highbrow areas.
When The Guardian visited Olakunle Selesi Street, Ajao Estate, Lagos, around 3p.m. last week, the gate was locked and all efforts to speak with the Chairman, landlord association were fruitless.
Speaking with The Guardian on why the gate at Akanji Odutolu Street, Oshodi remained shut despite government’s order, CDA Chairman, Isokan , Fawole Kazeem claimed the gate was locked for security reasons.
He said: “There was a time a luxury bus conveying passengers from the east was followed by gunmen and the driver became aware that he was being followed when he got to our gate. He knocked to gain entrance and there was sporadic shooting; if the gate was not locked, they would have entered the street and innocent persons could be affected.
“Also, this street would have been run over during the period of one million boys reign of terror if the gate was not shut.” Kazeem, who is also the Public Relations Officer (PRO), Community Development Committee (CDC), Oshodi-Isolo council insisted that the street is not interested in locking the gate, but the safety of residents is of utmost importance.
“We intend to open the gate by 7a.m. and close it by 7p.m. but we are currently working on it after it was pulled down by the construction firm working on the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway.
“We are security conscious here in Akanji Odutolu and, we used to have one of our elders, Mr. Daniel who was a retired Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), he was so conscious that no stranger entered into the street without him asking questions.
“No meeting was held with the governor without discussing security matters. Security is very key and that’s the reason we don’t allow strangers to park on our street and if we do, the person must sign a paper before parking. I was a member of the security outfit put in place by Bola Ahmed Tinubu.”
There was a time during the period of Goodluck Jonathan when his then National Security Adviser (NSA), the late Owoye Andrew Azazi said that there was no way a community leader will not be aware of the presence of a stranger in his community.
MEANWHILE, the Lagos state police command has blamed gated streets across the state for reasons the police is not attending to distress calls on time.
The state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Adekunle Ajisebutu, spoke during a courtesy visit to The Guardian. He said: “I must say that we have challenges responding to distress calls. We are all aware of the construction works going on in various parts of the state and this construction work causes gridlock such that it becomes difficult for police patrol teams to manoeuvre some of the routes and also, there are some estates and streets that have gates. But we will continue to work on our response time and make adequate adjustments.”