Mondays and Fridays are notorious for congestion on the [Abule-Egba-Oshodi] route. Many commuters have to make plans for extra hours on the road…
Commuters plying the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway in Lagos State are groaning under intense pain and agony. They are subjected to a traumatising gridlock on daily basis as a result of the ongoing construction of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lane and pedestrian bridges by the state government.
This suffering that millions of Lagosians pass through may have to continue for some months as there appears no sign that the work will be completed soon. The congestion on the busy highway is also traceable to the blocked Pen Cinema interchange at Agege, due to the construction of the flyover there.
Although many of the residents saw the project as a welcome development especially when it is completed, the people are calling on those handling the work to accelerate the pace of execution.
On many occasions motorists plying the Abule-Egba-Oshodi route have to endure up to three or four hours on the road for a journey of about 25 minutes. Mondays and Fridays are exceptionally notorious for congestion on the route. Many commuters have to make plans for extra hours on the road before they start their journey.
To compound the situation, the contractors work even during the busy hours of the day. While on duty, they usually block a large section of the road with their heavy equipment, thereby subjecting the road users to one narrow lane.
On Monday November 12, abuses, hisses and lamentations were on the lips of the motorists who were trapped on the road for hours. A passenger in the bus that the reporter also boarded suddenly ruptured into open lamentation. He rhetorically asked himself what he was doing in Lagos with the loads of sufferings he was daily contending with on the road.
The passenger said: “Which kind of government is this? How can one be on the same spot for one hour in this hot sun? How long can we continue like this in the name of constructing BRT lane? This congestion can make one go crazy.”
Another passenger retorted: “Please go to Government House and complain to Governor Ambode instead of disturbing our lives in the bus.”
“This is senseless. How can the government be simultaneously working on the two major roads leading to Tollgate? The Agege flyover project ought to have been stopped. The pain is now unbearable,” another commuter lamented.
The commuters also expressed worries over the reduction of the expressway from five to two lanes,
a situation that has compounded the gridlocks on the axis, and the consequent loss of valuable man hours. Vehicles making detours at the slightest opportunity created by the contractors further compound the situation. This is frequently witnessed between Airport Junction and PWD Bus Stop.
Mr. Arthur Nwokolo, who resides at Ile-Epo area of Agbado Oke-Odo Local Council Development Area (LCDA) in Alimosho, told the reporter that many things were responsible for the slow pace of work on the project. According to him, the contractors had to demolish a long stretch of the already completed BRT lane at Adealu Bus Stop.
“We woke up one morning to see them removing everything they had done. While they did that, we are the ones that have been suffering, because they blocked one part of the road. It is about two years now that they started the construction of the lane, yet they have not even gone far. If you look at the resources and time they have wasted making amendments, I think they are confused. Didn’t they have the plan before they started the work in the first place?” Nwokolo wondered.
Orimoguje Damola said: “The government is working for our good, but they should consider the stress we go through every day and come out with a better plan. Our area is locked down because the government is constructing all the roads at the same time. The Ministries of Works and Environment should have assessed how the work would affect the people plying the road.”
Activities at many business centres, including banks and filling stations have been disrupted for months, as the contractors have been blocking entrances to their premises over excavation. Wherever there is interruption, the owners of the businesses only have to wait until the job is concluded on the spot.
Almost on a regular basis; between Abule-Egba and Iyana Ipaja, the gridlock gets frenzied as vehicles from Sango axis and others heading toward Oshodi struggle to enter the narrowed lanes. Also, the congestion becomes compounded around the Alimosho Road, as traffic from Egbeda, Dopemu, Ikotun, Ijegun and other areas struggle to enter the expressway.
Commercial bus drivers have cashed in on the ugly situation to increase fares on the route. As at November 12, the fare from Abule-Egba to Oshodi that used to be between N150 and N200 has gone up to between N300 and N400.
While the residents continue lamenting, the state government had said the construction of the BRT lane when completed will help decongest traffic on the road, as well as bring development to the axis. Even as many agree with the government’s submission, what the affected road users did not expect was the untold hardship that would accompany the construction.
However, a driver with a telecommunication company, Mr. Ayo Ayobami told the reporter that the residents and commuters would later enjoy the hardship they are facing today.
Meanwhile, the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) has said as part of measures to mitigate the effect of the construction in the area, the number of traffic officers have been beefed up, while materials and operational vehicles have also been deployed to the area.
But the commuters are calling for more measures to reduce the hardship that they face on the route.
Also lamenting, a commercial bus driver, Okija Michael, accused LASTMA officials of arresting and milking drivers of their hard-earned money for taking the wrong lane and facing oncoming traffic. He said it has become difficult to know when a particular section of the newly constructed BRT lane is allowed to be plied or not.
“They will open the road today for everyone to ply, the next time, they will block it and call it ‘one way.’ Once you are arrested, you are forced to pay nothing less than N10, 000,” he said.
On why the drivers had doubled the fare, he said they hike it because they have to burn more fuel when there is gridlock. And the number of trips per day is reduced.
“Even what we charge is not enough considering what we lose when there is heavy traffic. It is not easy for us. Instead of 12 trips, when there is traffic, we might not be able to go more than five times. So who pays for the shortage knowing that we have to balance the owner of the vehicle and burn more fuel too,” he explained.