By Ifeanyi Okolie
Police checkpoints across major highways in the country may not be the best spots at this season as motorists travelling for the Christmas and New Year festivities are groaning in pains, following the increasing number of such derogatively-labelled ‘’cheque-points’’ on Nigerian roads, obstructing free flow of traffic.
This is against the backdrop that commercial and private vehicles plying the roads have long been subjected to hellish traffic nightmares said to have been caused by heavy check-points mounted by policemen across the nation which reduce double lanes to single lane.
Investigations by Crime Guard indicate that aside the deplorable state of these roads which have long imposed harship on motorists, the heavy presence of policemen and their check-points have worsened the already tensed situation.
These check-points currently mounted across sections of Lagos/Ibadan Expressway, Sagamu/Ore/Benin Road, Benin Bye-pass and Asaba Tollgate road, are over 50 with a section of the road barricaded with woods and disused tyres. Motorists plying these routes have stridently called on government and police authorities to urgently do something about the harrowing situation.
A driver with Young Shall Grow Motors Limited, who spoke on condition of anonymity, described the ubiquitos check-points as terrible, lamenting that the unnecessary delay experienced at check-points has increased the number of man-hour lost by motorists. Aside the delay, he alleged that most policemen use the checkpoints to extort money from commercial and private vehicle owners.
He said: “The situation is so bad that you will find traffic gridlock on all of these roads. The policemen use big woods to block access to these roads and they usually extort money from motorists plying the routes. However, drivers of Young Shall Grow Motors don’t pay because our vehicle documents are in order and we don’t carry contraband goods. In fact, the check-points are mounted virtually at every pole beginning from Lagos/Ibadan Expressway, and then to Asaba tollgate.
‘’I have been looking for opportunity to bring this to the notice of the authorities to tell them the danger inherent in it. For instance, on approaching any of these check-points, one will be amazed to find a long queue of vehicles waiting to be cleared by these policemen. And, I have been wondering why government and police authorities haven’t thought about the risk involved in allowing this to go on unchecked because a truck could develop a break failure and you know what that could lead to.
‘’I recall incidents in 2009 and 2010 when vehicles had break failure and rammed into several vehicles, killing many persons on Onitsha-Enugu highway in Anambra State and on Otedola Bridge, on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
‘’I am therefore, passionately begging Police authorities to have a re-think and pull out these check-points.’’
For Chioma Onyemachi, who experienced what she described as the longest wait in traffic on Sagamu/Ore Expressway, the incident would remain forever etched in her memory. According to her: “ I left Lagos for Enugu State and spent over three hours on Sagamu/Ore Road, because of the countless check-points. I agree that the roads are in a deplorable state but the police check-points are not helping matters at all.”
Another driver with Okeyson Motors Limited, Mr. Wilson Uwangre, stated that “the situation is same everywhere and they are making life unbearable for us. For instance, a journey from Lagos to Enugu will take not more that five hours, but these policemen have increased it to eight hours, owing to the road blocks. I am shocked that government is yet to do anything about it. I rather suggest that there should be more police patrols than road blocks which they call cheque- points, nay check-points.”