…As sections of significant Lagos highway finally collapse
By Job Osazuwa
A major calamity looms on the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway in Lagos. The craters on the failed portions of the road between Cele and Ilasamaja bus stops have become death traps. If nothing is done about fixing the road immediately, Lagos residents might start harvesting deaths and disaster on this highly significant highway in the near future.
Already, navigating through the crater-filled road has become a daily dose of trauma. The deplorable sections start right from Cele, Berliet, extending to Itire, Ilasa till Hassan bus stop. But the worst and most dangerous portions are between Itire and Ilasa bus stops. The service lane right from Itire down to Iyana Isolo bus stop also needs urgent attention. The lane has become weary due to pressure from users who avoid the dilapidated main road.
On many occasions, motorists, plying the road and members of the community have called on past and present governments at the state and federal levels to come to their aid, but their prayers are yet to be answered. Meanwhile, their affliction has continued unabated.
Many precious hours are always sacrificed to the gridlock on this road. There have been fatal accidents on several occasions on the bad spots. Many people have been sent to their graves. Robbers often capitalise on the perennial traffic occasioned by the failed portions to dispossess commuters of their valuables. Any vehicle that breaks down on this spot becomes an instant prey to the hoodlums. Once a vehicle breaks down, the kings of the night quickly emerge from their hideouts to rob their helpless victims. There are other robbers who shatter windscreens with strong objects and escape with their victims’ valuables.
Right now, the road has totally collapsed. Motorists and commuters ply the road in pain and with disappointment. Commercial drivers and private car owners hold their breath and groan anytime their vehicles wobble through the numerous potholes. At the moment, small vehicles cannot dare the potholes after Itire bus stop, on the other side of the Ilasa Police Station.
Investigation reveals that hardly does a week pass without many car owners taking their vehicles to the mechanic for repairs. The harrowing experience has forced many car owners to abandon their cars in their homes while they board commercial vehicles to get to their places of work.
Commuters’ woes are usually compounded during the rainy season. On many instances, many have been trapped in the long traffic till midnight. The commercial vehicle operators, who are courageous enough to continue plying their trade on the road, seize the opportunity to increase fares by as much as 200 per cent.
Though governments at various levels had carried out some palliative works on the road in times past, the problem persists.
When Daily Sun visited the bad spots on Sunday afternoon, the road was in a terrible state. Drivers of articulated vehicles were extremely careful while manoeuvring through the craters to avoid their trucks tumbling over.
One of the numerous hawkers on the road, upon seeing the reporter’s camera, noted: “Mr. Journalist, please this is where we eat. The government should not repair the road now; it can be later. This is our workshop.”
A middle-aged woman, who sells cooked food near Itire bus stop, told the reporter that she usually walked down to Hassan bus stop to board a vehicle to Oshodi after closing for the day. She said vehicles could spend two hours on the same stretch which shouldn’t take kmore than 30 seconds at saner times.
A tricycle rider, Mr. Moses Akintola, who plies the Itire to Lawason route, lamented that the road was neglected despite its significance to Nigeria’s economy.
Hear him: “I work and live at Itire, and I have been here for about 12 years now. Well, I don’t really have any business with the expressway, but when I look at what people pass through there, l pity them. Government knows what to do but they don’t care. I know the government makes much money from Apapa Port, yet the road is like this.”
He called on the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, the immediate past governor of Lagos State, to act quickly and fix the road.
“This is the time for Fashola to truly prove that he is an action minister. They said charity begins at home. Therefore, Fashola must begin his action from Lagos. I don’t think this road we are talking about requires billions of naira to be repaired. We are begging the federal government to do this road before the rainy season comes,” Akintola said.
A vulcaniser, who does his job in front of a filling station at Itire, also begged the government to act quickly.
“Some people’s vehicles develop other faults, and they will need a mechanic at that point to repair it. If some vehicles develop fault at night, that is where the major problem comes. Bad boys usually rob them. But if the road is good, they can easily drive safely through the road to their homes. Government should come to the aid of the people on this very important road,” he pleaded.