The Lagos-Abeokuta expressway is notorious for its endless traffic snarls, and motorists who ply the road say construction work has aggravated the chaos
At the close of work on Friday, November 16, Adebayo Abiodun, had two major important reasons he needed to hit the road immediately for his home on the mainland from his office on the Island.
As a minister at his local church, he had a major assignment at the day’s church vigil. The next day, being a Saturday, he equally planned to attend a wedding of a relation. But as important as these events were to him, there was a much more compelling reason to delay his journey back home till the dawn of the next day – the chaotic state of the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway has always kept him back in office till Saturday mornings, when some degree of sanity is expected to have been restored on the road. But this particular Friday was different; he could not just afford to stay back on the Island.
So, he left his office few minutes after 5:00 p.m and by 7:00 p.m he was at Oshodi, where he was to connect the next bus to his destination. Unfortunately, the father of two told Sunday Sun that he got stranded at Oshodi for over two hours as commercial bus operators who were able to make the trip back to Oshodi hiked their fares unreasonably, citing the unbearable gridlock along the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway.
According to Abiodun, “on a normal day, the fare from Oshodi to Toll gate ranges between N150 and N200. But since the commencement of the ongoing construction works on the road, the fare has fluctuated between N250 and N400. But on this last Friday, it was unreasonably hiked between N700 and N1000. When it finally dawned on me that I might not be anyway luckier, I decided to pay the exorbitant fare.”
Abiodun’s frustration did not end at having to pay through his nose alone, more frustrating was the fact that he didn’t get home until few minutes before 2:00 a.m, the next day, being a Saturday. By then, there was no way he would be able to attend the vigil, which of course was the primary reason he decided to defy the gridlocks.
Abiodun’s experience on this fateful day is one hard reality thousands of Lagosians who ply this road on a daily basis are subjected to without any ray of hope on when this suffering would end. Some passengers who spoke to Sunday Sun on this development lamented their frustration at having to spend their precious time in traffic on this road and the inflated fares they have to pay before getting to their destinations. A passenger, who identified himself as Mr Lucky Ibezim told our correspondent that he usually left home at 4:00a.m and returned very late every day. “It’s been very hectic moving on this road in the last few months. Apart from paying huge transport fare, the length of time one spends in this traffic is very annoying. I don’t think the distance between Oshodi and Sango is more than 20 kilometers, which of course should not take more than 30 minutes under normal circumstance. But you end up spending four to five hours before getting to your destination. The official resumption time in my office is 8:00a.m, but I leave home at 4:00a.m to be able to meet up. Again, I close at 5:00p.m but I don’t get home until around 10:00p.m. So on the average, I spend nine hours in traffic and in the most injurious condition, considering the heat in commercial buses; the fume one inhales and other discomforts,” Ibezim lamented.
In addition to loss of man-hour in the traffic and the exorbitant transport fares commuters have to cough out, there is also health dimension to the problem. Reports abound about cases of passengers who passed out as a result of the debilitating conditions in traffics. A commercial driver, Musibau Olaiya told Sunday Sun that there were occasions when he had to pull over because of passengers who suddenly took ill while on transits. “Recently, there have been cases of people fainting or vomiting in the bus. I believe the majority of these people are not used to such harsh conditions. Last week, a man messed up in my bus. The man vomited and all the passengers in the bus had to alight because of the stench. In fact, the woman who sat at his front was almost drenched with his vomit,” Olaiya recalled.
Such scenes as painted by Olaiya are not uncommon. A commuter, Ms Joy Ogochukwu equally narrated to Sunday Sun how a middle-aged man suddenly took ill onboard a commercial bus recently. “We ran into the traffic at the GRA by-pass before PWD and remained at the spot for more than 40 minutes. Suddenly, a man whom I think should be in his late 40s or early 50s began to breathe abnormally and by the time the woman who sat next to him could raise the alarm, the man was almost gone. Fortunately, the bus was on the service lane, so we quickly rushed him out, removed his shirt which was already soaked with sweat.
“So when he regained consciousness, we appealed to one of the passengers beside the driver to vacate his seat for him,” she explained.
From Super bus stop at Abule Egba axis of the road to Oshodi Under Bridge, human and vehicular movements remain at the slowest pace, just as undisciplined and impatient motorists add to the woes of frustrated passengers especially at points where traffic maintenance agency are absent. Notorious traffic spots along the road include: Bolade/Arena traffic light point. PWD to Ikeja Along Bus Stop, Ile Zik intercession, Mangoro/Cement Bus Stop en route Abule Egba, Dopemu Under Bridge, Iyana Ipaja and Ile Epo bus stops. En route the old Agege Motor Road, the intercession before Capitol Road, AP, National, Abattoir, Car wash and the New Oko-Oba junction. Although prior to the commencement of the construction works, the Lagos-Abeokuta expressway was notorious for its endless traffic snarls, but motorists who ply the road said the construction work has not only been aggravated the chaos on the road, it has equally elicited fear that the nightmare on the road might persist even after the completion of the project. Motorists are quick to point to some narrow portions of the road as a major source for concern for road users, just as many blame the worsening traffic situation on the government for embarking on the rehabilitation of the road simultaneously with a major overhead bridge on the old Lagos-Abeokuta road, which would have ordinarily served as an alternative route.
Motorists and commuters also blamed the construction company handling the project for what they described as lack of consideration for road users. A motorist who identified himself as Engineer Adebowale Elliot, accused the construction company of deliberately adding to the frustration of road users by arbitrarily causing obstructions on the road without providing alternative routes.
According to him, “in civilized climes, major constructions works that are likely to impede free flow of traffic are mostly done at nights or when the traffic is light. But what we see them do here is that they just move their heavy duty equipment to the road anytime of the day without consideration for road users and without palliatives or alternative routes,” he lamented.
Although, a site engineer who refused to identify himself at PWD-Shogunle area of the road denied the allegation that the construction company deliberately adds to the pains of road users while efforts to get official position of the management of Strabic Construction Limited were frustrated by the security personnel stationed at the entrance of the Alausa office of the company located opposite Marwa Garden, as they stridently denied our correspondent entry to company.
Meanwhile, the Lagos State Government on Thursday said it had fashioned out workable solutions to ensure free flow of traffic across the state, especially as the Yuletide season approaches.
Among other strategies, Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, (LASTMA) has resolved to extend its operations from 5:00a.m to 12 midnight on a daily basis.
The state Commissioner for Transportation, Mr Ladi Lawanson, said after a closed-door strategic session chaired by Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode, at the Lagos House, Ikeja, that the government had been worried by the perennial traffic situation motorists had been facing in recent times.
He said the governor called for the session to fine-tune strategies for all agencies and stakeholders involved to implement, so as to ameliorate the traffic situation and also ensure security of lives and property.
Lawanson said: “What we have done is that we have got feedback from men and women who have been on the frontline, specifically our LASTMA officials, and then the Commissioner of Police was with us as well to give us the perspective of security.
“So, most of the issues have been thrown up and we have together as a group strategised on it and we have come up with what we think are solutions to make for better flow of traffic, especially as we enter the ember months and the holiday season,” he disclosed.