We are the sum of our thoughts, experiences and activities in our sojourn on mother earth. A school of thought believes that our mind is a repository of ideas, logicsand inspirations, so we should feed and guard it jealously with all diligence such that the issues that emanate from it can chart for us a good life.
Another school of thought believes that our mind is like a tabula rasa (blank slate). The experiences we gather through formal and informal education over time fill in the blank gradually and influence our thought process which then translates to the way we create the environment in which we live.
I marvel at the level of organisation of the little ants in their kingdom. When they embark on a given task, they go about it with a calculated order: no breaking of ranks and no one walks at cross purposes. How are these tiny creatures able to achieve this when it is inconceivable that their grey matter can hardly make them survive?
Lately, I have been observing a phenomenon in our environment. We are comfortable when we have a linear simple formation. It gets a little tedious if we have to tee off from our linear pattern or attempt to run across the linear arrangement. This is true for our roads, highways, bridges and walkways.
Of the signals at the junctions along the Lekki-Epe expressway, there is not a single one particularly for pedestrians. It is common sight seeing pedestrians scampering across the highways when the signals stop motor vehicles. Also, crosswalks are not defined. This makes our junctions chaotic, dangerous and most times unsightly.
The ratio of people with vehicles to the general population of Nigerians in urban centres is quite low. It is true that the majority of people do not own a vehicle or have no form of mobility. We should therefore give preference to the teeming pedestrian population by providing adequate sidewalks or pedestrian crossings on our roads. This will give them a sense of well-being, safety and security.
It is very important that our crosswalks are not tedious to ply, particularly for persons with disabilities. Unfortunately, over 80 percent of the established crosswalks in Lagos are not suited for persons with disabilities. It therefore becomes important that the Works and Transport Ministry has a team that is saddled with the responsibility of ensuring the provision of adequate and appropriately designed sidewalks and crosswalks. This will help in making our cities more orderly and equally prevent pedestrians from being run over by motor vehicles.
The issues that arise where traders line up their wares along sidewalks can be eliminated by designing them specifically with this in mind, especially in the highly commercial neighbourhoods.
I recently observed a lady on a motorised wheelchair attempting to go on a crosswalk along ObafemiAwolowoRoad, opposite the Secretariat. She could not go over the median as it was about a foot higher than the level of the crosswalk, so a female traffic officer had to come to her rescue. She stopped the traffic for her, whilst three persons lifted her across the median. This portion of the median should have been lowered to be on the same level as the road. The walkway at the end of the crosswalk is equally not ramped. Again, she had to be lifted on the pedestrian walkway.
Sidewalks, crossways or pedestrian crossingsare very basic things that never pose any issues in civilised societies. There is absolutely no reason why they should be tedious for us to do.
Whatever is worth doing at all is worth doing well. Let us do the simple things right; we will be amazed at how the complex things will sort themselves out. Let us avoid the tedium on our crosswalks, beginning with the hashtag#giveussafeandfunctionalwalkwaysandcrosswalks.
*Onabanjo is the founder of GO-FORTE FOUNDATION, an organisation dedicated to the restoration of the environment.