By Ishola Balogun, Sam Anokam, Kehinde Ajose, Olayinka Ajayi, Iyabo Aina & Aderonke Adeyeri
Our businesses have been shut down — traders, car dealers
Close to a month now, the Apapa axis from Second Rainbow, a bus-stop along the Mile 2/Apapa expressway down to Tincan Island and environs in Lagos have been witnessing a worst situation of traffic snarl.
From Otto Wolff down to Tincan, tanker drivers have completely blocked the road leaving other commuters stranded, frustrated and helpless. Some say it was due to the ongoing road construction while others believe it has to do with non-availability of parking space for tankers.
As a result, business activities in the area are seriously suffering because customers are no longer patronizing them on account of the terrible traffic bottleneck.
Some business owners along that area spoke to Saturday Vanguard on how the situation is adversely affecting their businesses.
Emeka Umeh – Store Keeper, General Marble
The situation is just too much. Infact, it is getting out of hands. Ever since these tankers invaded this area, we have not been doing anything. The ball is really in the court of government to do something about this situation. I think the problem is the road construction; if the road is free, tankers would be free to move. There is no where for them to park.
Edozie - Air conditioner Repairer
Virtually nothing has been happening. There is no customer again. No one would want to drive down here with this kind of traffic. Look at me dressed as if I am going for a social event. I cannot even change to wear another one. There is no money to feed my family again since this traffic started. The tankers as well as the bad roads are the cause of this traffic problem.
There is no parking lot for these tankers. Get down to Westminster, it is only one lane. Everywhere is full of tankers, trucks. I don’t think government is doing anything because once these tankers are on the road, no customer comes here. Please, tell government that we are suffering. This whole area is paralysed.
Jackson – Battery Charger
This traffic has brought us bad luck. The authorities would have to look for another route for the tankers because they are blocking the roads. We don’t even know if the problem is the tankers or the on-going construction by Julius Berger.
They have to be fast because this is a very busy road. We cannot move. We trek to work, we trek home. Those little buses that we rely on in situations like this are no longer coming this way. It is too much.
From Apapa to the second gate at Tincan Island, these trailers, carriers, trucks and tankers have blocked the right and left lanes. Going to Apapa and coming back is a big problem. Transport fare has increased. A journey of N50 is now N150 and salaries are not increased. That is apart from time wastage.
Moruf Oshuolale - Freight Forwarder
Without being told, it has negatively affected my business. Whenever our job comes out, we have problem delivering because of movement. It is seriously affecting all of us in this business and it is not funny. Government should help us.
Adebisi Abolaji Taiwo – Chairman, Task force, Berger Motor Dealers Association and Chairman, Shola Park
As you can see, we just sit down doing nothing from morning till evening, then, we go home. There is no movement. Even if we have a buyer to buy our cars, there is no way for them to get out of this place. We appeal to the government to come to our aid.
They should tell them to park in one lane to allow the other lane to flow. There is no area for anyone to go or come in from this place. Somebody said Julius Berger is working at the end of this road, we don’t know how true that is but even at that, there should be a way for us to move. These tankers have been here two weeks ago even before the fuel crisis and they are still here and we are not sure if they will leave here in the next 72 hours. Please tell government to come and help us.
Businesses on the ever busy Oshodi-Apapa expressway have been paralyzed as a result of the traffic gridlock . Oshodi-Apapa road, the gateway to the nation’s ports, has been a nightmare for road users, as it now takes about six hours to ply the road.
Saturday Vanguard met with commuters and they expressed their ordeals.
“It is horrible. It is annoying. I have not seen this kind of thing before. Can you believe I stayed for more than four hours in the traffic? I have been to other parts of Nigeria and I have not seen a place where an important road like Apapa road will be blocked and nobody seems to care. I hear it is as a result of the fuel scarcity we are experiencing in the country. But something has to be done and pretty soon,” Enoch Okiki who works as a clerk in one depot in Apapa said.
Another commuter who simply identified himself as Yemi told Saturday Vanguard that for two months now, he has been going through the harrowing experience daily on his way to work and as such abandoned his car at home to join commercial bus.
“This hold up has stopped me from going to the office in the comfort of my car. I have been having this harrowing experience since two months ago with nobody to rescue me”. He said on a particular day, he got to his office about 12.20 pm and since then, he has stopped going to work in his car. Instead, he uses public transport, which affords him the opportunity to alight at will and take a motorcycle, popularly known as Okada.
Mrs Chinedu Okafor, a staff of one of the telecommunication companies at Cement bus stop along the Oshodi-Apapa road ,said she has remained unhappy when she remembers she needs to use the Apapa-Oshodi expressway to and from work.
She lamented and said: “When I was transferred to our Coconut branch early this year, I did not reckon with the enormity of the heavy traffic on the road. On several occasions, I arrived the office hours behind schedule, such that the management has warned me orally and just last week issued me a query. It is so demoralizing that I have come to see my transfer to Apapa as a punishment.”
As for Ajayi, another commuter, going through the gridlock daily is breathtaking as it is stressful.
“The most agonizing part of it is that when one gets to Mile 2, you are confronted by street urchins and thieves who would break your car’s side glass, steal your belongings and may only leave you unharmed if you are lucky.”
Though construction work by Julius Berger has been going on since last year, thereby causing traffic jam in the past, the recent gridlock was said to have been caused more by tanker drivers waiting to load petroleum products at the tank farms located at Kirikiri and Apapa due to the recent fuel scarcity experienced round the country.
Consequently, residents of Kirikiri town, who have been at the receiving end from the activities of the oil depot operators bitterly expressed the pain inflicted upon them by the depots storing and lifting highly inflammable petroleum products in the area.
The residents also expressed their displeasure over government’s insensitivity to the dangers posed by oil depot operations in the area which they claimed is residential.
A resident, Pastor James told Saturday Vanguard that the community now lives in fear of a possible fire outbreak.
He said: “Apart from the traffic jam, we’ve had few signs of what is to come and God is only being merciful to us. Nobody knows when the next big fire will come. We recently experienced one fire outbreak this year and we beg the government to come to our rescue”.
Another resident of Kirikiri town, Bunmi Adeyemi said the entire area is completely in a mess as residents now spend hours in traffic if they most go home.
“Living in Kirikiri town is now terrible and the truck drivers have made it that bad for us. They now park their trucks on the Kirikiri link bridge and block the road for hours without allowing residents access to their homes. They do this with the backing of the police who usually sit and watch them.
“The only time the roads will be free is when Navy officials from the naval base are on ground to free the roads. This is too bad and we can’t call on anybody for assistance.
When you go to the police, they will tell you that they can’t control truck drivers but people who are close to them have informed us that the the police allowed this because NUPENG officials that collect tolls from the truck drivers give back their returns to the police.”
Though construction work by Julius Berger had been going on, thereby causing traffic jam in the past,the traffic has graduated to an unbearable level for commuters due to tanker drivers waiting to load their products at the tank farms located in Apapa as a result of fuel scarcity in the country.
Miscreants, robbers on the prowl
As the dust of fuel scarcity begins to settle, many road users expect normalcy to return in our Expressways. Many road users at Mile 2 – Wharf axis still go to their places of work in fear as miscreants, hoodlums, armed robbers take advantage of the situation to unleash terror on motorists and passers-by and robbing them of their valuables.
It was however gathered that Julius Berger, the construction company handling the reconstruction of the road has been accused of causing the gridlock.
Eyewitnesses told Saturday Vanguard that miscreants otherwise known as area boys have taken advantage of the area dispossessing pedestrians as well as car owners of their valuables.
One of the victims robbed of his valuables, Ogadi Ugochuwukwu said, “ Julius Berger is not making things easy for motorists. They tend to close an ever busy expressway for the sake of constructing drainages along the expressways.
These miscreants at gunpoint collected all my gadgets which include my phones and Laptop computer as well as my wallet. I am yet to hear of police in Apapa-Wharf apprehending any of these miscreants on this road. All we see them do is arresting cyclists otherwise known as okada riders who are trying to earn a living by struggling hard,” Ogochwukwu lamented.
“A police officer from Apapa division who prefers being anonymous explained that the miscreants most times paired themselves as clearing and forwarding agents. So, it is often hard for the police to identify them. Since the construction project began, lives and valuables of commuters are at risk day and night due to the lingering gridlock ion the road.”
In the same vain, Mr. Adewale Aderigba, a car owner further added, “I stopped driving my car to the office because the gridlock exposes me to spending more than 13hours at a particular point without any hope of getting to my place of work and the armed robbers that come regularly to rob in that area.
Saturday Vanguard however observed that the drivers and passersby most times passed these routes with the fear of being attacked by the hoodlums who rob both commercial and private vehicle owners.
One of the commuters, Mrs. Omolara Omotunde, who trekked from the 2nd Rainbow to Ayorinde Berger yard called for the presence of police and security men in this area. “If Police and the Federal Road Safety Corps can be stationed in this area, traffic congestion would be curtailed to the barest minimum as well as the construction company creating other route options for motorists.”
Badagry expressway gridlock
Badagry expressway is a perennial spot for traffic hold up. Though the expressway is undergoing an expansion to 10 lanes, the ordeals and tales of agony told by commuters and motorists who ply the road is a major source of concern. The Lagos –Badagry Expressway is a utility road that leads to important business centres like Alaba Rago, Alaba International, it also doubles as Nigeria’s door to some neighbouring West African countries like Ghana, Togo Republic of Benin e.t.c.
On the flipside, the bitter tale is that this road is riddled with potholes which leads to untold traffic jam, armed robbery attacks, and loss of lives and properties.
When Saturday Vanguard visited some parts of the expressway, it was discovered that the traffic gridlock usually starts from Barracks (The Nigerian Army Cantonment), Abule Osun, and then continues down to Iyana Iba.It was also observed that the traffic begins to build up in the morning when people are going to their respective places of work, and continues in the evening when they are returning home.
“The road is a terrible time waster. The major source of the traffic jam is simply the potholes and the fact that motorists are not patient with each other. As a nursing mother and a teacher, I have to pass through that road everyday to my place of work at Agboju.
I can recall a particular day I left my home at Ijanikin as early as 6.00a.m and got to my place of work at 10.00a.m. Something needs to be done promptly,” says a School Teacher who prefers to be anonymous.
Businessmen who transact their businesses along the route have similar tales to tell about the nightmares they experience and how it has caused their businesses multiple losses. Recounting his losses, Mr Akintoye, an Auto dealer says, “The traffic along Lagos –Badagry Expressway has been so terrible for quite some time now.
It has really affected my line of business because customers will prefer to go to other parts of Lagos to buy their cars, than to be stuck in traffic coming to patronize us. I will suggest that the government should solve the problem by maximizing the partition intervention. I think partitioning the road from Iyana Iba back to Barracks will be the solution to the daily traffic jam.”
For Oyetunji Abiodun, an I.T entrepreneur who lives in Okoko, the traffic jam that occurs on that road is always predictable. According to him,“the traffic is always constant such that you have to add the time you will be spending in traffic to the time you are supposed to get to your destination .It’s really causing havoc coupled with the ongoing maintainenance in some parts of the road.
I was scheduled to be interviewed on a particular TV programme recently but lost that opportunity because I was stuck in traffic and couldn’t make the show. I felt like relocating that day.”
Even students who have to pass the road to their various schools bemoan the pains caused by the traffic gridlock. In the words of Oluwa Enitan Sophie a student, “As a student and a regular commuter on that axis, I try to explore alternative routes. I learnt this the hard way because I have not only missed a test but I got late to the exam hall as a result of being in traffic on that road for countless hours. It took the intervention of some kind-hearted lecturer to get me into the exam hall.”
Nightmare on Ikorodu road
The traffic on the Ikorodu-Mile 12, road has forced many residents to abandon their homes and seek refuge with friends and family members outside Ikorodu to ease movement from home to work places and business areas.
Although many residents who spoke with Saturday Vanguard argued that they knew they would go through some pain as construction of roads in the areas lasted, many opined that the situation should have degenerated to the point of gridlock where commuters and motorists would spend five to six hours transiting from Ikorodu to Mile12, a journey of less than 30 kilometres. One of the the residents who recounted his ordeal on the road told Saturday Vanguard how his wife almost lost her pregnancy as a result of the stress on the road.
“My wife and I had set out as early as 4:15pm on that fateful day from our home at Ijede. We had wanted to catch a flight to Abuja by 7:30am but after three hours, we were not even close to Owode let alone Mile 12 at about the time of the scheduled take-off.
My wife was stressed up and I could see the changes on her face. Mainwhile the airlines kept calling until we missed the flight. It meant we missed our appointment in Abuja. My wife just collapsed.
I was confused because there was no okada. I screamed for help. We had to flag down a car going in opposite direction which helped to convey my wife back to Ikorodu hospital for medical attention. I cannot quantify what I lost but I give glory to God,” he stressed.
Other residents while narrating their ordeals also argued that the alternative roads to Ikorodu remain the only solution to the incessant traffic jam on the road, adding that the influx of people in the area have put undue pressure on the only road leading to adjoining villages in Ikorodu.
Another resident told Saturday Vanguard that traffic usually builds up as early as 5:00 a.m. due to high population of residents in the ancient town. And residents come out in thousands to the bus-stops as early as 4am just to beat the frustrating traffic.
Mr Olushola Peter, a regular user of the road said ‘’the traffic on Ikorodu road has been terrible since the the contractors embarked on the road expansion. “This is because the roads are very narrow and it cannot even contain two vehicles. But I believe by the time they complete the expansion, everybody will enjoy the road.’’
Another Ikorodu-road user added, ‘’Each day we face heavy traffic on this road; leaving home for work early in the morning is a nightmare and returning home late in the night is double nightmare. Most times, the traffic stretches from Ikorodu to Mile 12.
So, we spend most of our productive time in the traffic. It is even worst when returning in the evening. The traffic is almost at stand still. We appeal to the state government to please come to our aid and do something about the traffic congestion on Ikorodu road.’’
Although the commuters said they were aware they would have to bear some ‘pain’ until the project is completed,they still argued that the situation should not be as bad as it is at the moment.
They therefore, called on the Lagos State Traffic Management Agency to deploy more officials in the area to help manage the chaotic traffic.
Mrs Oluranti Ige said ‘’the people are suffering because LASTMA people are not many on the road. People drive anyhow. The traffic officials are not doing enough. There is no patience.’’
Raheef Tunde , another commuter added that the situation is getting worse.
“If you were here on Tuesday when it rained, you would have seen how people are suffering on this road. To get to Mile 12 from Ikorodu which used to take under one hour now takes three hours or four hours.’’
Akin Oshinlowo,who also plies the road often said ‘’since the contractors started work on the road, the potholes have increased. They need to fill it up so that cars can move easily because if all cars have to slow down because of the potholes, the traffic will become heavier.’’
A commercial driver Mr Emmanuel Okonkwo said ‘’the traffic situation in Lagos is caused partly by road users themselves. “Lagos road users are known to be very impatient. Obviously this is not the only reason, but it plays a prominent part. How many times have we seen huge traffic jam simply caused by a driver refusing to give way to other motorists? So, I think the drivers some times are the cause of traffic jam.’’
According to Joseph Olaitan, a banker, “the Lagos traffic is as a result of the ban of motorcyclists also known as okada riders from major routes and this has forced most people to go out with their vehicles.
There is traffic in Lagos because of increased number of vehicles that ply Lagos roads. In a situation whereby the husband has a car, the wife has a car, and they have a driver that takes the children to school in another car, and everybody goes out at the same time, there is every tendency that there will be traffic jam.
So, I urge government to rescind decision on okada ban so that we can make use of the okada when there is traffic gridlock on our roads.”
Olaitan suggested that while everybody awaits the completion of the 6-lane project, the state government should talk to the contractors to speed up the work though there is a lot to be done on the road in order to make it passable for road users. He added that Lagosians should always be patient and drive carefully so that all vehicles can move smoothly without hindrance.