Retaining The Uniqueness Of Lagos Business District

Broad Street is Lagos state is well known for its uniqueness, large population of bubbling men and fashionable women that traverse its soil, day and night.

Its length and breadth are full of un­rivalled daily commercial activities. It may simply be defined as a street where three out of five people walking in it, are traders or business men with the aim of winning customers’ patronage.

No wonder why the state government designated the area as the business dis­trict.

Lagos Island also play host to some imposing multi-storey corporate or­ganisations, impressively planned and exquisitely painted offices, vehicles of different colours and makes, fashionable ladies and well-spruced men who ‘fight’ for right of way with hundreds of street traders on their way to their work places.

Other places in other parts of the world that share the same characteristic with Broad Street, Lagos, are Broadway, a thoroughfare in New York City, United States of America, a centre of commer­cial activities, which also provides enter­tainment to ardent supporters of music players who specialises in orchestra in specially-designed buildings.

In London, there exist another Broad Streets in Birmingham, Bristol, Oxford and Reading, all in Britain.

There are reports that the Broad Street in Philadelphia serves as a major arterial street and yearly enhances the tourism strength of the United States, where, despite having been in existence for many decades, it still serves as the home of several Philadelphia cultural landmarks, and it is called the Avenue of Arts and home of art gallery in the United States.

According to information, Broad Streets in these countries have largely held on to their originality, and hence, they are believed to still be in the same shape they were decades ago.

Sadly, however, the same cannot be said of Broad Street, Lagos, as is with the case in many communities in Nige­ria, Broad Street, Lagos seems to have changed dramatically from what it used to be decades ago, particularly in aes­thetics.

According to reports, the street once known for peace, quiet and tranquillity, has over the years, evolved into a land of hustling and bustling with little room for organisation and control.

Aside street trading, which has be­come the order of the day on Broad Street, car parks full of the ubiquitous 18-passenger buses have also sprung up, a development that can be said to have also aggravated the rowdy nature of the once serene environment.

Broad Street in Lagos, the economic capital of Nigeria, like the ones in other major cities of the world, also boasts of important architectural landmarks that represent the Federal Government de­spite the movement of the seat govern­ment to Abuja.

Some of such structures include; the Federal Government Press, Federal Den­tal Clinic, Lagos General Hospital, Odan; Central Bank of Nigeria, Federal Inland Revenue Service, Nigerian Ports Author­ity, General Post Office, the Western House among others.

Also, comfortably seated in the area are structures like the Freedom Park, Sterling Towers, AP House, 25-storey United Bank for Africa (UBA) Corporate Headquarters, 17-storey Elephant House, 14-storey Energy House, Premier Book­store, CSS Bookshops, sundry shops and several stalls, all private business con­cerns and a sizeable residential build­ings, now occupied by men and women and their large population of children.

However, the business district has transformed into a shadow of its pris­tine self, degenerating to an environment some degrees a bit better than most tradi­tional markets in Nigeria and important historical cities. Except urgent steps are taken to reverse the trend, the business district may soon turn into such places as Jankara, Oshodi, Ajegunle, Idumota, Mile 12 and Alaba markets in Lagos, which all grew naturally to heights, but now manifest in various ways, environ­ment of filth and squalor.

Although in an effort to bring sanity to this business district, which was once a toast of companies throughout Nigeria, the Lagos State Government has estab­lished the Lagos Central Business Dis­trict Task Force to oversee the day- to- day activities of traders and motorists, there­by creating an enabling business environ­ment for the citizenry.

The intention of the Lagos State Gov­ernment in establishing the task force to maintain law and order in this densely populated business environment, howev­er, seems to have turned sour, as officials of the task force have turned their official engagement into means of making per­sonal money. Speaking with Broad Street Dairy recently in an interview, a trader, who declined to disclose her identify for fear of persecution by the officials, nar­rated an incidence she claimed to have personally witnessed.

The trader alleged that officials of the task force were greedy and behaved some­times irrationally.

“One day, a driver illegally packed his vehicle, obstructing other motorists and this attracted the attention of this officer, and in order to arrest the driver, the of­ficer immediately moved to the driver’s side of the bus and started deflating the tires of the bus.

“I was surprised at this because I don’t know the way he was going to move the vehicle after deflating its tires. In fact, the traffic was already building up at that very moment.

“To cut a long story short, after about an hour, the driver ended up parting with N3, 000 before they could let him off the hook. I was so surprised because I never expected that an official of government who was expected to maintain law and or­der would behave in such a way.’’

For Segun Tella, a Danfo driver who plies the CMS-Orile route, he said with­out greasing the palms of the CBD Task Force officials, drivers plying the axis would end up being arrested for various offences and their vehicles towed to their office, adding, to settle them is better than being arrested and taken to their office.

“When you settle them, you save your­self much trouble and you will be free to do your business.”

Tella’s claims of bribe could easily be noticed as drivers who openly violate the keep moving order, parked at the middle of the road to pick passengers and gave complimentary slang to the officials like ‘baba agbalgba tuale’ which the officials nodded in response and looked the other way.

A wristwatch repairer Ajani Wasiu, whose stall is a table and chair directly under the Apongbon Bridge said most of the CBD officials are former street boys who he has known for the past 20 years.

He said they were part of the boys em­ployed by the government to fulfil their campaign promises to provide jobs for them.

He said: “Most of those boys you see in that uniform are ‘street boys’ that don’t have anything to do prior to been offered this job by the government, that’s why you see them behaving like ‘agberos’ why carrying out their duties. They always harass and collect money from the bus drivers and market women.

“They don’t disturb me at all as they al­ways hang around my spot to escape from the sun or take a rest after hours of stand­ing by the road side,” he added.



Source: National Mirror Nigeria

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