Last Wednesday’s incident at the Odan General Hospital in Lagos Island brings to the fore, once again, the need for regular and continuous maintenance of public infrastructure not only in Lagos State but also throughout the country.
For Lagos , which is the nation’s commercial nerve-centre and economic powerhouse, the acronym, ‘Lagos : Centre of Excellence,’ should not only be mere rhetoric but reflect in the general preservation and maintenance of private and public infrastructure across the state.
The elevator failure leading to the untimely death of a young doctor, Vware Diaso, at a government-owned medical facility is therefore a sign of failure on the part of the state government which is the owner of the facility, just as it is a total embarrassment. The incident did not only cut short the young doctor’s life and dreams but also brought tears and sorrow to her family, friends and well-wishers.
The incident is just one of the several manifestations of the failure Nigeria has unfortunately become. If a doctor could die in such a miserable manner in the hospital where she works, then there is little or no hope for the ordinary patient. Painfully, this development is coming at a time the Lagos State Government has been flaunting its achievements in the health sector. The incident has rubbished whatever success the government might be laying claims to.
Although it was a lone incident, it has further exposed the corruption and rot in the entire system as more public infrastructures across the state and the country are going bad and unattended to by officials responsible for the maintenance of the facilities, most of which were put in place with public funds.
It is sad that we always wait for disasters to happen before acting on them after the avoidable harm would have been done. The costs of remediation in such situations are always very expensive, if not fatal, as we have seen in the case of the Lagos Island hospital. We wonder what the reactions of overzealous government officials would have been if the sad incident had happened in a private facility.
Several public infrastructures across the country are in a state of total disrepair and they have been abandoned to rot away. The state of the National Stadium, National Theatre and the Tafawa Balewa Square Complex in Lagos, among others, was so worrisome before the move to commercialise them, following the inability of the Federal Government to maintain them regularly. Most of the nation’s airports were also in very bad condition until recently when efforts started to give them a face-lift.
The road network in the country is also not the best as the government leaves most of the roads to collapse before embarking on rehabilitation, which always takes eternity to complete. The situation on the busiest highway in the country – the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway – is a case in point with rehabilitation work still going on for almost 10 years now. The pain and suffering Nigerians living on that stretch of road go through everyday is quite unimaginable, especially commuters on the Ogun State end of the expressway.
Only last weekend, somebody raised the alarm over the imminent collapse of the Alapere pedestrian bridge believed to have been hit by an articulated truck overnight, although the Lagos State Safety Commission is reported to have blocked the bridge and barred the public from using so as to prevent a possible disaster and unnecessary loss of lives. The railings and rooftops of many other pedestrian bridges in Lagos have been removed and vandalised, thus exposing Nigerians who use the bridges to danger while the government looks the other way.
We are glad that the latest incident at the Lagos Island hospital has become a wake-up call on the government to live up to its responsibilities, just as we are happy that the special committee set up to investigate the matter completed its work at the weekend .
We hope proper sanctions will be meted out to whoever is found culpable in the whole saga to serve as a deterrent to others as we call on government at all levels to take the maintenance of public infrastructures seriously.