by Abolade Olawale
There has been a spike in the rate at which touts extort motorist within Alapere-Ketu in recent times. This has gone beyond the typical way in which they plead for money in times past. Currently, the community has become a place where people part with funds while attempting to drive through.
Earlier in the year, the administration of Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu has awarded the contract of dualizing Alapere to Ketu axis of the community. This has made commuters to know the various link roads to bypass the perennial gridlock which has become a recurring decimal in the area. It is also noteworthy that when the popular Ikorodu road becomes blocked, motorists use the inner roads of Alapere to link the Mile 12 under bridge as they proceed towards the Ikorodu division.
The places where these extortions have almost become a tradition are the popular Alapere roundabout. Interestingly, this is the junction that leads to the Agboyi-Ketu Local Council Development Area, Agboyi-Ketu. The touts here have become a permanent feature at this cross road. They swing into full force when there is traffic gridlock extorting money for even motorcycles in broad day light.
Moving down the road to the junction of St. Michaels Catholic Church, Utuh Street off Demurin Street is the biggest motorist toll paying route. Findings from the neighbourhood showed that the Utuh-Akanimodo streets had been earmarked for construction for many years but successive administrations have continually left it unattended to. This stretch of the road leads to a neighbourhood occupied by the Hausa community and the area is behind the newly constructed residential estate at Ajelogo. It is of a great concern that this community might be a threat to the residents in no distant time.
Recently, a motorist narrated his experience while attempting to link the popular Mile 12 area. According to him, “Money was demanded from me at 5 different points within this area. I was trying to avoid traffic but I got the chagrin of my life as I kept paying different set of people. I attempted appealing to one of the groups to allow me pass without paying, they threatened to break my windscreen if I am not willing to give him money. In fact, one of the young men told me that I should appeal to the government on their behalf as things have become more difficult.”
Equally, the stretch of Ogunbanwo Street that can be linked from the Apostolic Church, LAWNA Territorial Headquarters, Ketu has become another hotspot for extortion. The road which is also another bypass for commuters that want to access Alapere, Ikorodu Road amongst others have experienced the rise in the cases of forceful extortion.
People have been trying to get answers to the reasons why this unfortunate surge in extortion is happening around this community. Some people are of the opinion that it is a fall out of the #EndSARS protests while some believe that it is a reflection of the rising joblessness of the youths particularly those who are artisans cum motorcyclists who cannot ply highbrow routes.
In another vein, those who have the effrontery to mount these roadblocks are also considered to be the members of the various cult groups that cause civil unrest around Davies Street, Ajelogo, Baale and Mile 12 areas.
Would the Nigerian Police Force, Rapid Response Squad (RRS) and other security agencies of government be able to crush this rising menace? Time will tell!