The sight of faeces littering the Oshodi international interchange and surrounding areas has become a source of concern for commuters and residents.
While it is not uncommon to see residents defecate in open spaces when nature calls, few expect the $70 million transport interchange, arguably Nigeria’s busiest motoring hub, to be defaced with such a sight.
A place like Oshodi should not only have several quality public toilets, but also well-managed ones with a special task force on the ground to monitor compliance.
However, this is not the case, as open defecation has become the norm in the vicinity of the interchange, stretching all the way to the Charity bus stop along the Oshodi/Apapa Expressway, Oshodi/Agege Motor Road, and Oshodi Market, including the railway line.
This is happening when the United Nations Children’s Fund, formerly, United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) ranks Nigeria as the highest in Africa with the practice of open defecation.
Commercial bus drivers and residents, who spoke with The Guardian linked indiscriminate disposal of faeces in the area to inadequate toilets and an army of miscreants sleeping in the facility.
The situation, they said, is more worrisome as disposable plastic plates converted to hold faeces litter around, thereby heightening fear of an outbreak of cholera and associated diseases. Even the railway project along Oshodi/Agege Motor Road axis is not spared. All parts of the rails are filled with faeces. Yet people eat and sleep there. Whenever it rains, passersby navigate through the flood mixed with faeces as they head for their destinations. The beautifully constructed gutters have become septic tanks.
Lamenting the manner open defecation is being practiced in public places in the area, a clothes merchant at the Bolade Oshodi market, Alhaja Mojisola Abiodun, said: “Most of the time when coming from my home to start the day’s business in my shop. I am always welcomed by the unpleasant smell of urine and faeces in front of my shop. I have to employ vigilantes to help me watch over my shop at night.
“ I plead with the state government to build more toilets at Oshodi market because there are not enough toilets here at Bolade market.
“I often use the toilet of the mosque where we used to go and pray anytime I’m pressed, which is five minutes walk from my shop.”
A roadside trader at Oshodi under the bridge, Jibola Olorunwa, also complained of inadequate public toilets in the area.
According to him, many people just defecate anywhere they feel comfortable.
But an operator of a public toilet at Oshodi Underbridge, Adigun Ibrahim, urged the state to build more toilets to reduce open defecation in the area.
Asked how much he collects from users, he said: “We don’t charge much. We just collect N100, which we use in running the place.”
A miscreant around the area, popularly known as “Kenzo Marlians”, who admitted to practising open defecation, said many of them could not afford the money.
He said: “I sleep under the bridge and to eat sometimes is difficult. If I do not see any job, either as a bus conductor or to help people carry their loads to the motor park, I will have to sleep with empty stomach for that day. Is it someone like me that will spend N100 that I can use to get something to eat that will be patronising public toilets when I can use the gutter, and water will wash it away?” he queried.
Contacted, a senior management staff of Lagos State Ministry for the Environment, said efforts are on to increase the number of public toilets in the area as well as checking the activities of touts and miscreants who are always trooping to Lagos from different parts of the country.