By KINGSLEY ADEBOYE, BOSE ADELAJA & TOBORE OGHENEOVO
IT was another nightmare for motorists and commuters at the Mile Two to Berger axis, Oshodi-Apapa Expressway as well as Cele- Express- Ejigbo- Ikotun Road on Wednesday night following traffic congestion that made movement to the areas nearly impossible.
The Mile Two- Coconut, Tin Can and Apapa-Wharf was completely blocked for over seven hours even as robbers smashed vehicle wind shields and windows, dispossessing innocent road users their property including money, telephone sets and other valuables.
For many road users, it was a painful climax of the recurring decimal of traffic confusion that has bedevilled the areas for some weeks and which were attributed to a combination of factors including the on-going road rehabilitation work by Julius Berger Construction Company as well as poor channelisation of flood water.
The confusion led several trucks and tanker drivers to park their vehicles on the road sides, thus completely obstructing the free-flow of traffic. Most of these heavy-duty articulated vehicles were originally heading either to the ports in Apapa or the tank farms at Kirikiri before their drivers decided to park them on the road due to heavy traffic around those axis.
In the last few days, commuters, motorists and residents had literally went through hell as a result of the traffic situation on the roads. Most port workers, traders and other road users to or from Apapa Wharf spent several hours at a sport even as at 2am, as their counterparts on Cele- Express or Isolo- Jakande- Ejigbo- Ikotun Road who were trapped at Iyana- Ejigbo until about 4am.
Journalists from Vanguard and Sun
Journalists from Vanguard and the Sun newspapers who wanted to go home from their Kirikiri bases, had to sleep in their various newsrooms, as the roads were completely impassable.
While Wednesday gridlock lasted, road users had for the umpteenth time given vent to their frustration with a loud chorus of complaints and condemnation of the authorities over their failure to make life meaningful for the common man. Some of them said they could not understand why both the Federal and the Lagos State governments have not been able to address the persistent traffic nightmare experienced in the affected areas given the economic importance of the Oshodi—Apapa Express way which leads to the largest port in the West African sub-region.
The Apapa and Tin Can Island ports, tank farms and other factories on the road are the highest revenue earner for both the Federal and Lagos States government after oil.
Before now, many users of this road have blamed the development on the menace of container-laden trucks, fuel tankers coupled with bad roads until the Federal Government started the rehabilitation of the road which temporarily reduced the traffic logjam for some time before it resurfaced few weeks ago, making movements on the highway extremely difficult.
The officials of the Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC, and the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA, which are saddled with the responsibility of controlling traffic are usually not found on their duty posts each time the situation becomes chaotic. Although the Oshodi- Apapa- Mile 2 road belongs to the Federal Government, the Lagos State government collects rights of way taxes and sign-ages on the road.
Many road users who spoke with Vanguard blamed the development on the ongoing construction work on the road, while others blamed it on impatience on the part of motorists and the recklessness of Petroleum Tanker Drivers, PTD.
According to one Peter Esegie: “The constructors handling the rehabilitation of the road are to blame for the problem because by blocking sections of the road, they create unnecessary traffic obstruction for vehicles going either to Apapa or Kirikiri areas. They ought to have known that this is a busy road and that blocking any section of it will definitely create traffic confusion”.
But as far as Chigozie Egwim is concerned: “There’s nothing wrong in rehabilitating the road since that is what we have been praying for all along. But what I will advise is that such things should be done very early in the morning or late at night when there are few people on the road , and if maintenance must take place during peak hours, alternative routes should be provided for the people.”
For Wasiu Adeleke, a passenger in commercial bus, government is to blame for failing to call drivers of trailers and other articulated vehicles from parking illegally. He believes this is the major cause of the traffic on that road. His sentiment is shared by one Mrs. Bisi Ojelabi who attributed the frequent collapse of sections of the road and the recurring traffic gridlock there to the prevalence of these heavy duty trucks which ply that route. She suggested that government should provide alternative routes for trucks so as not to endanger the lives of the people.
The nuisance and inconvenience constituted by trucks on the road is an issue recently addressed by the Deputy Director of the Federal Ministry of Works, Mr Godwin Eke, who spoke about challenges in dealing with the problem. According to Eke who is in charge of Section1 of the highway: “Last month, in collaboration with the Lagos State government, we removed the tankers, but they came back after one week. Aside the tanker drivers, we started receiving threats from commercial motorcyclists who just come and park in Sunrise area, but the Police helped to remove them”.