By Bose Adebayo
The gridlock lasted for about four hours, prompting commuters to trekÂ to their various destinations between Mile Two and Tincan Coconut, while some motorists abandoned their vehicles on the road. As usual it provided an opportunityÂ for commercial bus operators and motorcycle riders to charge extortionist fares as a ride from Apapa to Oshodi suddenly attracted a minimum of N300.
This was the experience of commuters and motorists on a typical day.Â In spite of recent remedial rehabilitation of some failed sections of the road by the Federal Road Management Authority (FERMA) to provide temporary relief following public outcry, it has remained a constant tale of woe by motorists and commuters who traverse the road between the hours of 12 noon and 7pm.
The development has been linked to the concention of tank farms in Lagos, a situation that requires tanker drivers to drive down to Lagos from other parts of the country to lift petroleum products. As a result, many tankers are usually on the road about the same time, creating traffic bottle-necks for other roadÂ Â users because of their lumbering, sluggish movement and the tendency to break down frequently.
The Apapa stretch of the expressway has for a long time been witnessing heavy vehicular traffic and corresponding gridlock, the obvious reason being the large concentration of industries and oil depots and tank farms.
As a result of this, it has been one continuous painfulÂ experience for all road users just as it has impacted negatively on business activities in the area.
The business community and residents in Sunrise, Beachland Estate and Berger bus-stopsÂ have not stopped blaming the tanker drivers for the traffic chaos and the lull in businesses. During a recent Vanguard Metro visit to Sunrise and Coconut bus-stops many tankers and trailers were seen parked indiscriminately on the highway, a situationÂ which clearly inhibited human and vehicular traffic flow on the not-so-good road.
Sometime ago, the Ministry of Transportation sent operatives of the Lagos State Transport Management Authority (LASTMA) to impound 27 of the tankers parked haphazardly between Five Star and Toyota bus-stops along the expressway.
The tanker drivers reacted by embarking on a four-day strike action which they called off after the tanker operators paid the stipulated fine.
They promised not to park indiscriminately along the expressway again, but that promise seems to have been forgotten.
A trader who deals in auto spare parts, Mr. Akpan Udoh, urged government not to succumb to any blackmail by tanker drivers.
â€œWhatever the terms of settlement might have been, the fact is that an expressway should not be converted to a parking lot by tanker drivers if the lives of the citizens and those plying the road are important to government,â€ he reasoned.
Another trader,Â Mrs Ekiomado Okosun, said thus: â€œIt is baffling that government could not take a definite stand against the excesses of the tanker drivers in the state. To be frank, as long as tanker drivers continue to park on the road, lives of other road users will always be in danger. These people do not seem to consider the dangers which their actions pose to other road usersâ€.
A Vehicle Inspection Officer (VIO) under the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), Amos Okafor, said that the major problem of the route is the concentration of farm tanks or depots along the way, noting that there are more than seven of such depots in the area. Okosun stated that the route is divided into two lanes, one going to the Beachland Estate and another to Apapa Wharf .
He disclosed that on the Beachland Estate route, there are three depots, namely: Rahamayia, Obat Petroleum and Dee Jones. He revealed that locating these farms in one area has been causing a lot of nightmare to residents.
A Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) official, who pleaded anonymity, said that the Beachland route is a single carriage way and the concentration of three depots on the road has been a source of problem to motorists as they load on a daily basis which usually results in loss of man hours on the road. He implored government to relocate the depots, if possible, and provide more towing vehicles for the Commission to assist in movingÂ trucks from the road.
Fagunwa Foundation harps on indigenous languages
IN a bid to develop Nigerian culture, D.O Fagunwa Foundation has recommended indigenous languages to be used as a medium of expression among nursery schools in the country.
Addressing journalists in Lagos, to herald the 3rd annual lecture of the late sage, Chair Person of the Foundation, Mrs. Ibukunade Sijuwola (Nee Fagunwa) also argued that government at all levels should implement the languages in the National Policy on Education.
Sijuwola said Chief Daniel Olorunfemi Fagunwaâ€™s books should be re-introduced to the school curriculum to enrich the Yoruba culture. â€œGovernment should bring back his books to the curriculum so that children couldÂ understand the language. The use of the indigenous language as contained in the National Policy on Education (Section 2 paragraphs 14C on page 12) should be fully adopted in Yoruba land,â€ she noted.
â€œThe late Chief D.O. Fagunwaâ€™s books depict the richness of Yoruba Language, culture and values. A lot of morals abound in these books writen in Ijinle Yoruba (classical Yoruba).