By Theodore Opara
LAGOS â€” LAGOS, the nationâ€™s economic capital and financial hub has been paralysed by intractable traffic snarl-up, worsened by heavy downpour witnessed in the last few days.
One of the cityâ€™s main arteries, the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway which connects the Murtala Muhammed International Airport with two of the nationâ€™s busiest seaports â€” Apapa Quays and Tin Can Island Port has failed at several locations.
The worst points are on Tin Can Island itself, at Ibafon (Coconut Bus-stop to Sunrise), at Berger, and at the turn-off to Lagos-Badagry Expressway at Mile II, where motorists paddle their vehicles through flood waters.
Other failed sections are at Rainbow Bus Stop, stretching forth towards Sanya for several hundred metres. This spot has particularly worsened the agonies of motorists in the last few days, with traffic backing up for many kilometres and throughout the day.
It is also the scene of ghastly crashes as unsuspecting motorists speed into the craters at night. The other major failed section is at Itire (Berliet Bus Stop).
The traffic situation has continued to worsen as the heavy downpour enters its fourth day.
When Vanguard visited some of the failed spots yesterday, it was discovered that rather than the flood subsiding, it has continued to increase in length and depth.
With the increasing flood, the road has become a no-go area for small cars and buses which could not wade through the flood. Even the failed parts of the road have also continued to increase in size as the flood washes off most parts of the road.
As it is now, only trailers and heavy trucks with big tyres and axles could afford to wade through the road and it takes them over six hours or more to go through the distance of about one kilometre.
The effect of the flood however has taken a toll on businesses along the axis as many shop owners had to close down. Some of the shops have been covered by flood forcing the owners take off for fear of getting infected in the dirty water.
Banks groan as customers stay away
Also badly hit by the situation of the road and flood were banks along the road. The over ten banks along the road were a shadow of themselves yesterday as customers stayed away.
Staff of some of the banks visited by Vanguard were idle and lamented the lack of business since the heavy flood started.
A banker with one of the new generation banks along the road who wouldnâ€™t like his name in print told Vanguard that customers hardly visit them since the downpour started as most of them were scared of falling inside the flood.
But he pointed out that only those who could not keep their money in their safes dared the flood for fear of being visited by robbers.
â€œYou know, the oil companies and servicing companies are predominantly located here so they have to dare the flood to come and do their transactions but apart from that, business has been extremely dull,â€ he said.
Another banker from another bank shared similar views with his colleague but added that even one of their staff was rushed to the hospital yesterday when he fell into a drainage.
â€œMy brother, it was not easy, we almost lost one of our staff yesterday who fell into the drainage unknowingly because the drainage was covered by flood,â€ he stated.
Meanwhile, most motorists had resorted to using link roads around the area to cut off the express. Most of the roads being followed were not better than the expressway but the only difference is that they are not flooded like the expressway.
The major street behind the expressway, Akogun Street, which used to be the alternative road whenever the expressway gets flooded is under construction by the Lagos State government, thereby worsening the plight of motorists and commuters.
With the untold hardship being suffered by commuters and motorists, it seems the Federal Government is not doing anything to salvage the situation.
Oshodi-Apapa expressway, worst hit
The Oshodi-Apapa expressway is has, for many years, been neglected resulting in its present state of decay. The drainage systems have become dumping ground by companies doing business along the stretch, while Tokunbo vehicle sellers take over some of the available spaces left on the road.
Remedial works carried out on the road in the past have not helped matters as they have only been peripheral and did not really address the state of the road.
Meanwhile, some youths are making brisk business at the bus stops by ferrying people across the road on their backs through the flood for a fee. One of the lads told Vanguard that he gets enough to feed himself and help the family by directing vehicles away from the craters covered by the flood and ferrying people across the road on his back.
Elsewhere in Lagos, flash floods have been the cause of motoristsâ€™ woes, especially along the Airport Road, and in Gbagada. In the suburbs, like Satellite Town, Abule-Odu, Ejigbo, Ikotun-Egbe and Ojo, flash floods, which opened up huge craters on the roads have caused traffic to back up repeatedly.
In other parts of Lagos, failed road sections are the cause of traffic jams at Egbeda, Alagutan, Alimosho, and other parts of Agege, especially at Pen Cinema and Ogba-Omole axis.