Some boys smoking at Apakun-Oshodi garden, Lagos PHOTO: ENIOLA DANIEL
• LASPARK will respond within its mandates, says GM
Despite the serenity and enticing greenery in many gardens in Lagos, residents shun the facilities as they have become safe havens to hoodlums.
In most cases, residents, who dare visit these gardens, for recreation activities or leisure, have sordid tales to tell.
With increasing insecurity in the state, many hoodlums hide under the serenity of these gardens and other cordoned off spaces to attack unsuspecting passers-by and residents.
It is not uncommon to see jobless youths loiter around these gardens in daylight, either sleeping under the bridges or on bare grasses.
These youths often smoke illicit drugs openly in the gardens and could attack unsuspecting passers-by.
Recently, a female student of Lagos State Polytechnic, Ikorodu, who was descending to Ketu under belly from Abiola Garden, was attacked by hoodlums.
The hoodlums pretended to be sleeping on the grass, as the girl was walking through the lawn, but they descended on her and made away with her handbag and phones.
Similarly at Iyana–Oworo Under Bridge, along Oworonshoki-Oshodi Expressway, some boys recently attacked a driver as he tried to negotiate the road leading to New Garage.
The hoodlums attacked from the garden where they were pretending to be relaxing under the tree.
It was a similar sorry story at the Apakun garden under the burnt Lagos Airport link bridge near Toyota bus stop, along Oshodi –Apapa Expressway.
An Oshodi resident, Emmanuel Momoh, said some boys that sleep under the bridge at day time are the ones terrorising passers-by within the axis at night.
He said their presence at the gardens is disincentive to residents that would like to visit the place.
According to him, the activities of the hoodlums are making nonsense of the good works of Lagos State Parks and Gardens Agency (LASPARK), which was designed to make Lagos greener and healthier through the creation and maintenance of functional and operational parks and gardens, planting and maintenance of trees.
Another resident, Comfort Eneh, who claimed to be a regular visitor to the park after its recovery and beautification by LASPARK, said she has not visited the park after hoodlums attacked her friend, who was taking a Selfie in the garden and collected her phone.
When The Guardian visited a garden yesterday, over 20 boys were seen sleeping on the greenery while others smoke substances suspected to be Indian hemp.
But the General Manager of LASPARK, Mrs. Adetoun Ibilola Popoola said maintaining security at the parks and gardens was not within the mandate of the agency.
She said the agency in its few years of existence has fulfilled its mandate of beautifying and promoting recreation in Lagos and has consolidated on huge achievements of the Ministry of the Environment with the establishment of more gardens and parks.
According to her, till date, 327 parks and gardens have been captured by the agency and maintained statewide for people to go and relax . “Out of which 212 were established by the state government, 85 by private concerns and 31 established in schools.”
Some of the ways the agency is doing this, she said, include taking over open and incidental spaces that come out of road construction and beautify them.
Apart from establishing parks and gardens, Poopola said, the agency ensures continuous maintenance by providing facility managers , cleaning companies, security officers and park managers assigned to monitor and ensure everything works accordingly.
She said the difference between parks and gardens was that while parks are secured locations that are most times gated, gardens are open space for scenery and recreation.
“We have greener Lagos managers, operational vegetal control units that monitor the gardens, as well as officials of Ministry of the Environment that go round to monitor the environment because our jobs are on the road.
“When there are security issues we often report to agencies responsible for that, like the Taskforce, Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI) officials and Neighbourhood Corps for solution. Sometimes, we can escalate it to the governor when we feel the issue is grievous for immediate action,” she added.