Residents and business owners in Kirikiri, Mazamaza, Mike Two and other communities in that part of Lagos State are in excruciating pain and agony.
In the past few days, accessing their homes and businesses have been a difficult thing for them. They are begging the Federal and Lagos State governments as well as the security agencies in the state to rescue them from the hands of operators of trailer-trucks, tankers and other articulated vehicles who have completely taken over the major and minor roads in the axis.
The immediate cause of the people’s current travails is the decision by the Federal and Lagos State governments to stop barge operations along the Marina coastline. It was alleged that such operations have desecrated the beauty and serenity of Marina coastline.
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, and the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who defied the early morning downpour on Tuesday to inspect the activities around the Marina coastline, made the stop-work order during an unscheduled visit to the Marina.
They went round the coastline, and witnessed the long row of trucks and containers that have constituted health and security hazards on the Marina.
The minister spoke of an urgent need to sanitise the entire Marina coastline and restore its tranquillity and beauty. He ordered that trucks must immediately stop going to Marina to load.
“The Federal Ministry of Transport has agreed with Lagos State Government to ensure that whoever is making use of Marina coastline should stop. We have agreed with the Commissioner of Police to stop those using the roads and we have agreed with NPA to cancel all barge permits pending when each person will come back to NPA, NIWA and Lagos State Government to renew such approval,” he said.
Sanwo-Olu directed the Lagos State Commissioner of Police to arrest and prosecute anyone who flouts the order to stop unauthorized activities on the Marina. He promised that the state government would do everything to bring sanity to the coastline.
As gathered, the drivers are hurriedly leaving the marked areas in order to evade arrest, and possible fine.
Residents, particularly in Mazamaza and Kirikiri area are worried that the government’s directive has made truck and tanker drivers that were hitherto parking by the seaside in the area to also vacate, and thereby occupying every space on the streets of Kirikiri.
The people in the area are calling on the appropriate authorities to quickly come to their rescue, saying that the entire area is already overrun by all sizes of trucks and tankers.
Some of the trucks, as learnt, could be on the road at a particular spot for days and weeks while accessing its destination – tank farms, terminals or ports.
Right now, companies that make daily deliveries are having a terrible time meeting up with deadlines. Two major national newspapers are also being prevented from delivering copies of the dailies, as the articulated trucks have occupied every inch of the road, from Mile Two through Mazamaza to Kirikiri
Navigating those roads have become almost as difficult as attempting to pass a camel through the eye of a needle.
Many of the residents as well as business owners have described what they are experiencing as pure hell, saying the situation is unbearable.
An exasperated staff of one of the newspaper companies lamented: “Getting to the office from Ilasa even on motorbikes is not easy and we end up printing very late. Driving out from the office after printing is tough. Sometimes, you end up spending more than one hour between Kirikiri and Mazamaza, which should not take three minutes. We will still face traffic congestion in other areas, including Mowe. It is very frustrating. This is an election week, and we are not making it to the market early. This is not good at all. The state government should help us. This truck and trailer-induced traffic is crazy, and no one knows when it will end.”
In the distant past, anyone living in Kirikiri Town would have no reasons to regret, given the kind of security and the cosy nature of the area. But, gradually, the comfort and joy have been consistently swept away by the huge presence of some oil firms and companies who invaded the town with giant tank farms and terminals.
As it stands, people’s lives have been turned into a nightmare, as residents could no longer sleep with their eyes closed, owing to the heavy traffic of trucks and trailers that have invaded the area.
There is always a constant panic as the development has crippled economic and social activities in the area. Massive influx of trailer tankers hauling petroleum products, including fuel along some narrow inner streets where local women openly vend food being fried on open stoves, as well as the prolonged stay of the vehicles on these inner roads, have become a big problem, grounding the flow of traffic completely.
Despite different measures by the state and Federal Government, as well as other stakeholders to bring sanity to the roads in the community, there seems to be no permanent solution in sight as the people’s agony continues unabated.
From findings, the most disturbing and excruciating issue on the mind of every resident of the area is the activities of these heavy duty vehicles’ drivers.
There have been protests against the manner these drivers go about their business; with calls to curtail their excesses on the road.
No doubt, the unresolved gridlock has sent many businesses into extinction, while many others are struggling to survive. Everyone that has anything to do in the area, including visitors, has a sad tale to tell of the devastating effects of the trucks’ activities in Kirikiri and its environs.
On many occasions, motorists and commuters plying the axis have been robbed of their personal valuables. Hoodlums usually cash into the heavy traffic to commit different havocs.
Commercial bus drivers have also capitalised on the traffic congestion to always increase transport fares; and at times, by 200 per cent. This has been the norm for over a decade, even as the drivers also try to justify their actions, saying that they are also at the receiving end.
A resident, who was formerly living on Old Ojo Road in the area, Ugo Chukwuma, told the reporter on the telephone that it was hell for him and his family, saying that it was the everyday traffic that frustrated him and his family members out of the area.
“My wife and I couldn’t drive our car for many months for the fear of being stuck in traffic. They would block the access to our streets, such that we could no longer move about with our car. Many times, the school bus from my child’s school couldn’t get to our house to pick my daughter to school.
“Some people were forced to park their vehicles at Mile Two, FESTAC by First Gate or as far as Cele Bus Stop before Ijeshatedo. That was the only escape means for those people that needed to carry out their day to day activities with their vehicles. It is a terrible situation and we don’t know when a permanent solution will come.
“In the past, the trucks parked on one side of each of the streets and roads, but now they are everywhere, without even allowing little space for motorcycles or pedestrians. I cannot understand why government is allowing this to continue to the detriment of the people,” he complained bitterly.
He, therefore, appealed to government to come to their aid, saying that many lives have been lost after spending hours in the traffic while on their way to the hospital for medical attention.
Many retail shops in the community have to be relocated from the area due to low sales. Landlords are also lamenting that nobody is willing to rent a house in Kirikiri Town due to the unending traffic crisis. The traffic has continued to render other devastating blows on everyone in the area.