• Bad road, congestion responsible for motorists’, commuters’ woes
By Rebecca Opaluwa
The Lagos-Badagry Expressway in Lagos State has been in a deteriorating state for a long while. A good portion of the highway remains in very terrible condition and it has worsened with the current rains pouring down in sheets.
With the road’s decline, there seems to be no let up to the avalanche of pain and agony many people experience on it. Daily Sun gathered that at all times the lives of commuters and motorists who ply the road are in jeopardy. People no longer enjoy the luxury of riding on the road free of stress.
That vital facility connecting Nigeria to its neighbours in West Africa has long lost its once enviable status.
In the meantime, work on the proposed 10-lane highway with a railway track from Mile 2 to Okokomaiko on the road is in progress. The work, which many fear might have been stalled, poses a number of challenges on the remaining part of the road that is yet to be tarred. From Mile 2, motorists enjoy the paved road up to Abule Ado. But from that spot, hell simply takes over. No first-time user would like to travel on it for a second time. It features chains of potholes and, with the former asphalt on it surface scraped, every inch of the road is now muddy most times. This easily traps vehicles driven by the unmindful or the undiscerning. Drivers engage in an endless free for-all-on it; rules don’t count. Thus a trip on it leaves one in anguish for days.
Added to the sorry plight of road users are the activities of the army of artisans, petty traders and commercial bus drivers at the Iyana Iba axis. In that axis, traders and bus drivers have taken over the road, adding to travel time, as their unruly behaviour delays motorists and commuters.
In addition to menace of traders and drivers arbitrarily obstructing other people, there is the nuisance factor of a great multitude of shoppers coming to patronise the traders, who criss-cross the road seeking to purchase fruits, vegetables and other items up for sale.
Right now, residents of the areas through which the Mile 2-Badagry Expressway cuts are fed up with the daily trauma that the road causes and they have since been crying for help. They want the relevant authorities to speed up action on the construction of the road and decongest the Iyana Iba axis.
Mr. Olalekan Akinbiyi, a resident of Okokomaiko who works on Lagos Island, said it usually took him long, painful hours every day to go to work and return home. His biggest problems in commuting were the congestion caused by traders and drivers at Iyana Iba and the potholes and craters dotting the yet-to-be paved portion of the road.
“I leave home by 6am every day, yet I hardly get to CMS on Lagos Island by 8am. And there are days I’m not that lucky. On such days, I might get to the office by 9am.
“To beat this, you often see people mounting commercial motorcycles, otherwise known as okada. Some days, if I leave the Island by 5.30pm, I may get home at about 10pm.
“Sometimes, you see some passengers falling off the bikes because the operators carry two passengers in order to make nore money. And for them to return to carry more stranded passengers, they usually ride at great speed. They are often reckless, so accidents occur often.
“We sometimes run into robbers and touts who harass people once it is nightfall. That is our lot on this road,” he lamented.
Recalling the sad experience he had recently, a man who identified himself as Monday said: “On May 2 this year, I remember the traffic situation we experienced was very, very hectic. I saw people trekking to and from their destination. As a matter of fact, some people trekked from Iyana Iba to Mile 2.
“People said it was because of the heavy rain that fell that day, which rendered the road terribly bad. Motorists were rooted to the same spot for upward of seven hours. No one who was in the vehicle moved an inch because the road was bad; people were trapped. Some simply alighted and started trekking.
“You can imagine the agony of commercial bus drivers. Some of them thought it was the usual traffic situation that only lasted for minutes. But that one was different. It lasted for about seven hours.
“The traffic situation was enough to cause people’s blood pressure to shoot up. Imagine a driver who was supposed to make a delivery of about N5,000 to his vehicle owner being trapped at the same spot all day. Where would he get the money to pay?
“Imagine how it feels being in the traffic for that long. Yet, this is the scenario most people pass through every day.”
Mr. Samuel Awere, a trader at Iyana Iba, described the traffic as a big challenge, which happens all day. He stressed that the situation has always been unbearable, even as, on a bad day, people spend hours trapped on the road between Iyana Iba and Volkswagen bus stops.
“I had to return home one day because of the heavy traffic,” he said. “When I saw that the situation was simply unbearable, I quietly retreated.”
Awere said the cause of the hold-up was the bad road and potholes often caused by the rain, and the recklessness of some drivers.
He lamented that the situation was not supposed to be commonplace on such a highway of international status. He said what was being experienced on it every day was enough to destabilise one’s life. In his words, it could cause one some setbacks.
Awere called on government to hasten the reconstruction of the road: “The federal and state governments should please come to our aid. They need to fast-track the reconstruction of this road so as to reduce our pain. It is too much.”
He notd that, once the daily hold-up begins at Iyana Iba, hoodlums simply cash in to cause some mischief and crime.
A woman who didn’t want her name mentioned disclosed that another woman was murdered in the area days before she met the reporter.
“There was some traffic that day. Some bad boys simply attacked the woman and demanded her phone but she refused to give it to them; she started shouting. So they stabbed her.
“Government should please help us fill a particular portion on that road, which causes the problem,” she said.
Other road users told Daily Sun that, if the road could be reconstructed within a short while, it would make the facility free of hassles and crime, especially at Iyana Iba.
For Mr. Ezekiel Okafor, an okada operator: “The traffic situation on this road is terrible. It is a big challenge to us. We are pleading with the authorities to complete the work they started.
“They need to force the street traders at Iyana Iba to leave; they need to be given a place away from the area to trade. They constitute a lot of nuisance there. They are the cause of the congestion we often experience there.
“When you get there any day, you will see a huge crowd that comes to buy and sell. Government should help us disperse them; they are the cause of our pain.
“I can’t wait to see this road done. I’m using this opportunity to challenge the authorities to do something about this road now. I can’t cease to imagine how this Iyana Iba will look like when the reconstruction work on this road is completed. I guess this spot will be a much better place,” he said.