Mo­torists, com­muters spend hours in La­gos-ibadan Ex­press­way grid­lock

Con­trac­tor, FRSC block Long Bridge’s side route

The Punch - - FRONT PAGE - Etim Ekpimah, Deji Lambo and Oluwatosin Omo­juyigbe

HUN­DREDS of mo­torists and com­muters were left stranded for sev­eral hours on the La­gos-ibadan Ex­press­way on Wed­nes­day.

Those af­fected the most were mo­torists and com­muters trav­el­ling from Ibafo to Berger bus stop end of the road fol­low­ing the clo­sure of a sec­tion of the road for con­struc­tion work to re­sume.

It took over four hours on the av­er­age to get to Berger bus stop in La­gos from Mag­boro in Ogun State, a jour­ney that or­di­nar­ily would not take up to 10 min­utes, with many ve­hi­cles break­ing down in the grid­lock and com­pound­ing the sit­u­a­tion.

The La­gos in­bound sec­tion of the road, which was blocked for re­con­struc­tion for three months last year, was re­opened just be­fore the Christ­mas and New Year fes­tive sea­son, but the other sec­tion was shut to traf­fic on Mon­day and the only avail­able sec­tion was di­vided into two for La­gos in­bound and out­bound traf­fic.

PUNCH Metro re­ported that the four lanes at the Kara end of the road had been re­duced to two, cre­at­ing a bot­tle­neck for ve­hi­cles try­ing to en­ter La­gos.

The at­ten­dant grid­lock forced many mo­torists to re­sort to us­ing the earth road lead­ing to the Kara area by ei­ther side of the bridge.

A com­muter, Fayokemi Ak­in­femiwa, ac­cused the po­lice of aid­ing hood­lums to ex­tort mo­torists ply­ing the earth road.

She said, “We know that the gov­ern­ment and the con­trac­tor, Julius Berger, are try­ing to make the Lagosibada­n Ex­press­way bet­ter for use, but the suf­fer­ing of the peo­ple, who live in com­mu­ni­ties around Mowe, Ibafo, Arepo and en­vi­rons, and work on the La­gos Is­land is too much.

“I left the house around 5am and saw the po­lice and area boys col­lect­ing N100 from each ve­hi­cle be­fore we were al­lowed to pass through the al­ter­na­tive road, which is very bad, but be­cause we all wanted to get to our of­fices, we had no choice but to pass through it.

“We need the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment and Julius Berger to make the al­ter­na­tive road pass­able pend­ing the time the nor­mal route will be com­pleted.”

When con­tacted, the Ogun

State Po­lice Public Re­la­tions Of­fi­cer, Abim­bola Oyeyemi, stated that po­lice­men were only de­ployed in the ex­press­way to con­trol traf­fic and not in the earth road, adding that mo­torists and com­muters should come for­ward with ev­i­dence of ex­tor­tion to al­low for thor­ough in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

How­ever, later in the day, of­fi­cials of the con­struc­tion com­pany moved a bull­dozer to the earth road and dug a trench to pre­vent ve­hic­u­lar move­ment through it.

This com­pounded the al­ready chaotic trau­matic ex­pe­ri­ence of mo­torists ply­ing the road as many ve­hi­cles, which were us­ing the earth road as an al­ter­na­tive route, had to turn back to join the La­gos in­bound lane from Warewa.

A com­muter, Ajayi Ji­moh, who con­demned the block­age of the al­ter­na­tive route to the Kara area of the road, lamented that he spent six hours on the road for a jour­ney that should not have lasted up to 15 min­utes.

He said, “I left my home in Mowe around 5.30am for the of­fice on Vic­to­ria Is­land, La­gos. My move­ment has not been pro­gres­sive be­cause I just reached Warewa. Why are we be­ing made to suf­fer like this be­cause of road con­struc­tion?

“Many peo­ple have died as a re­sult of this traf­fic. Last year, a mo­tor­cy­clist and his fe­male pas­sen­ger, who strapped a baby to her back, were killed in the traf­fic caused by the re­con­struc­tion of this road. Why can’t Julius Berger open the link road?”

A mo­torist, Tony Okeke, urged the gov­ern­ment to has­ten the con­struc­tion, say­ing, “I have been in the grid­lock for over three hours. I have been driv­ing my fam­ily all the way from Anam­bra State, but we en­coun­tered the grid­lock around the Re­demp­tion Camp. This is a ter­ri­ble ex­pe­ri­ence.”

The Sec­tor Com­man­der, Ogun State, Fed­eral Road

Safety Corps, Cle­ment Oladele, said, “If you have four lanes and you re­duce it to two, def­i­nitely there will be grid­lock. But be­cause many peo­ple, who drive through the al­ter­na­tive roads, get ahead of those on the nor­mal route, this dis­cour­ages peo­ple and make them start driv­ing against the traf­fic and com­pound the sit­u­a­tion.

“So, if the al­ter­na­tive route is blocked, ev­ery­body will be forced to drive on the nor­mal route and those who are be­hind won’t be able to jump ahead of those ahead of them. This is an ex­per­i­ment, if it works, it will con­tinue un­til the road is com­pleted.”

The Fed­eral Con­troller of Works in charge of the project, Ade­mola Kuti, said, “The car­riage­way is the road, peo­ple should not start us­ing other routes to join the queue in front; peo­ple should be dis­ci­plined by fol­low­ing the lane. It is a mov­ing traf­fic; the only problem is that we can have break­down of ve­hi­cles or ac­ci­dents.

“The work has started but the di­ver­sion started on Tues­day, and all things be­ing equal, we should be able to com­plete work on that sec­tion of the road by Fe­bru­ary.”

Photo: Odu­tayo Odu­sanya

• The grid­lock

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