• Oshodi-Apapa highway clean-up diverts trucks, tankers to other roads
The front door cracked open suddenly at Mazamaza Bus Stop. Before a word from other charged drivers that were stuck in the traffic, a middle-aged man in military uniform man brought out a long cane and began to apply the whip indiscriminately on the drivers.
The confusion and outburst happened about 8.30pm on Monday, July 30, as it has been a recurring phenomenon in the recent past. Private and commercial vehicles – big and small – had laid siege to the route for hours facing one another in sheer lawlessness.
It is a seemingly endless song of lamentations, as the plight of commuters, motorists and residents around the Mile Two, Lagos-Badagry Expressway and Kirikiri axis now appears irredeemable. The people’s suffering has assumed a frightening dimension as a result of the perennial gridlock in the area.
Trucks, tankers and other articulated vehicles have in the last few weeks relocated to the area and turned it to their permanent abode. They have unleashed mayhem and incalculable loss on the people. On a daily basis, people spend needless hours on a journey of less than 10 or 20 minutes as the case may be.
Despite the various meetings between the federal and state governments and other stakeholders to find a lasting solution to the ugly situation, there seems to be no let up to the unending pain and agony that many people experience on the route. The lives of commuters and motorists who ply the road are unarguably in jeopardy. People no longer enjoy the luxury of travelling on the road because journeying to and from work has become a near-impossible task.
It was gathered that the recent heavy shift of traffic congestion to the area is not unconnected with the activities of the task force set up by the Lagos State government to tackle the congestion on the Oshodi- Apapa Expressway. Many of the heavy-duty vehicles have been diverted and emptied into Mile Two-Badagry Expressway, Old Ojo Road, Mazamaza, Alahun Osunba and all the adjoining streets.
Residents and workers at the area are lamenting that the diversion has been to their detriment. Apart from the loss of man-hours, people are expressing fear over the health hazards associated with the stress that they pass through in the traffic daily.
The gridlock on the road has led to an increase in transport fares. Motorcyclists who hitherto charged N100 from Abule-Ado to Mile Two now demand between N200 and N500. In most cases, the passengers are always at the receiving end as there is always a 100 per cent increase or more in fares on the route.
Commercial drivers are also complaining that, except they increase the fares, they cannot make up for the hours lost in the traffic. According to them, they end up exhausting full tanks on one trip instead of three trips when the road is free of traffic. Indeed, at the moment, many commercial drivers are abandoning the route to avoid frequent arguments with passengers. Oftentimes, commuters are stranded and forced to walk several kilometres to their destinations. The people’s ordeal is usually compounded whenever it rains.
Though traffic snarls during peak and off-peak periods are common all over Lagos, residents of Kirikiri and other communities along the Lagos-Badagry Expressway have described theirs as man-made and unbearable. The link roads between Abule Ado and Mazamaza have been destroyed by heavy duty vehicles, which makes motorists and commuters groan the more. Between Alakija and Mile Two, commuters could spend three hours in traffic. On a normal day, the journey should not take more than 15 minutes.
A storekeeper in one of the warehouses on Happy Home Avenue, Charles Chima, told Daily Sun that he now does greater work on the road than the actual job he is employed to do.
“What I go through on this road every day is sad and discouraging. I live in Anthony area but l have to wake up as early as 4.30am every day to resume work at 8am. But going back home is more difficult for me, because the traffic is heavier in the evenings. There was a day l spent eight hours between Kirikiri and Cele Bus Stop. I regretted driving my car to work that fateful day. I was stuck from 6pm till 2am. I needed to go home because it was Friday and I wanted to spend quality time with my family members. On many occasions, l have slept in my office, though it was not convenient for me either,” he said.
Also, Mr. Olabiyi, whose office is in the Kirikiri Industrial Layout, told the correspondent that he could not report to his office for one week after he had been emotionally battered by the gridlock for more than three weeks. He said he had to be sending his reports via the Internet to his office.
“The heavy traffic almost finished me. I couldn’t just continue going to work because it was also telling on my health. One would be inhaling smoke from the hundreds of vehicles in the traffic. The fear of any of the containers falling off from the vehicles is also another major worry to people that ply the route. There are lots of issues; the risks are diverse.”
A student at Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education, Ijanikin, Daniel Olu, who plies the route regularly, said going to school from his Orile home had become a herculean task. He said gone were the days that he spent 30 minutes commuting from his house to the campus. To him, government has deliberately decided to punish residents for no offence committed.
“We have suffered enough on this route. It is also affecting most of the students academically. By the time you spend more time than necessary in traffic, you get weary. Sometimes, all you need to do is to take a nap. The rate of concentration and assimilation is drastically reduced.
“Urgent steps must be taken to address this problem because it is one of the major reasons investors don’t consider coming to this area to do business. For the fact that we are part of Lagos, we should feel the impact of the government,” he said.
Many residents and road users are angry and in agony. They are calling on state and federal authorities to come to their rescue, saying that they could not continue in this manner any longer. They want government to do everything possible and focus on decongesting the route of trucks and tankers. The people are also pleading with government to match its words with action in ameliorating their pains as had been promised recently.
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A resident of Agboju, Chucks Emmanuel, said: “I can’t drive my cars anymore. I park them at home to save me time and money. The traffic is too much, and I don’t have money to do repairs every day. Apart from spending more money, I also pass through so much stress, which is not good for my health.”