By Mike Ebonugwo, Kingsley Adegboye, Bose Adelaja and Lamidi Bamidele

Commuters and motorists plying the Oshodi-Wharf/Apapa route are presently struggling to come to terms with the jolting, albeit shocking, reality that the suffering and pains now associated with the worsening traffic jam along the Mile Two/Berger axis of the expressway may continue for a long time to come. Since the traffic ordeal began over three weeks ago, there has not been any respite in sight as road users are greeted with a worse version of the problem each new day.

The situation has been most horrifying since last week when a journey to Apapa/Wharf via Tin Can/Coconut became a nightmare experience for travellers. But while the relevant authorities engage in a buck-passing blame game, the suffering continues for motorists and other road users who can only but cry out in lamentation to anyone who cares to listen even though such expression of disenchantment is yet to receive any serious attention from relevant quarters.

While the frustration and suffering continue, most people engage in conflicting explanation on the cause of the problem and why there has not been any far-reaching solution. For now, the on-going road reconstruction has received a lion share of the blame as most observers continue to berate the construction company for blocking off sections of the road and restricting motorists to one or two lanes on the multiple lanes expressway between the bridge at Mile Two and Berger Yard/ Under-bridge.

Traffic Gridlock at Mile 2 Bus Stop Along Oshodi Apapa Expressway Lagos.Photo By Akeem Salau.
Traffic Gridlock at Mile 2 Bus Stop Along Oshodi Apapa Expressway Lagos. Photo By Akeem Salau.

The feeling is that the Federal Ministry of Works should immediately call the contractor to order and compel it to either open up the closed lanes on the road or introduce remedial measures to ease the suffering of motorists and commuters. But while responding to this, a source close to the Works Minister informed that his boss is most reluctant to bring undue pressure on the contractor in order not give it the excuse to slow down the pace of work which could lead to delay in the completion of the work.

On why the Ministry has failed to deploy security personnel to the area to manage the chaos and crisis, he said that should be the responsibility of the Lagos State government which collects taxes on the road. He added that when it comes to the issue of rehabilitating the road the state government often fails to rise to the occasion on the pretext that it is a Federal road, but always quick to collect taxes on the road which run into billions of naira yearly.

•Residents, road users groan; hawkers rejoice

For many road users of the popular Apapa/Oshodi expressway, there seems to be no end to the prevailing situation that is now a recurring decimal on this ever-busy road. For the past few days, travelling on the expressway has become an unending ordeal for road users.

Before now, the traffic situation was blamed on bad road, recklessness of commercial motorists as well as indiscriminate parking of trucks and trailers which have attracted government intervention, leading to the  rehabilitation of the road which is ongoing. On various occasions, the government has issued ultimatums to tanker drivers against indiscriminate parking which was observed only for a while.

For the past three weeks, commuters and motorists have been finding it difficult to connect Mile 2 to Orile, Badagry, Apapa and Oshodi as several man hours are usually lost on the road.

Even sustained media outcry on the state of the road has largely proved abortive as the gridlock persists, growing beyond the control of government agencies like the Lagos State traffic Management Agency, the Nigeria Police Force, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps and a host of others working to restore sanity on Nigerian roads.

Beginning from Ilasa bus-stop, Cele expressway, First Rainbow and Second Rainbow, Berger Yard, Under bridge, Berger Suya to Coconut, crater-like pot holes dot sections of the road thus subjecting road users to endless pains as vehicles are stuck on these areas thereby causing traffic jam on the road.

At Otto-Wharf bus-stop, imported second hand motor vehicles popularly known as Tokunbo are parked indiscriminately on the service lane of the road, while at Berger Yard Bus-stop and Under-bridge, heavy duty vehicles are stuck on the road as a result of the ongoing road construction at Berger Under-bridge.

Mile 2/ Badagry and Orile road is not an exception as it has become a nightmare to commuters and motorists. A journey from Oshodi to Apapa Wharf or Iyana-Iba which ordinarily takes about 30 minutes now stretches to between three and five hours.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, road users were heard loudly expressing dissatisfaction over the perennial traffic jam on the ever-busy expressway. One of them, Mr. Akinade Olaniyonu, whose journey to Oshodi from Mile 2 took him about four hours complained bitterly about his plight.

‘’I wonder if we still have a government in this country or how can traffic jam take over the road and the government shows little or no concern? I have spent about four hours travelling between Mile 2 to Oshodi; this will have a serious effect on my health,’’ he lamented.

While commuters and motorists lamented about this ugly situation, hawkers were seen singing praises over the development. In a chat with Vanguard Metro, many of them said the traffic snarl on the expressway has increased their daily sales. Chukwus Ibe who deals in can drinks said now he is able to sell between five and eight cartons everyday ‘as the traffic jam increases daily. “How I wish the traffic situation persists,’’ he said.

•Aircraft on the highway

Yesterday, the traffic jam on the expressway took a different turn when an abandoned aircraft was sighted at Sanya bus-stop, leaving many to wonder if another plane had crashed. This brought panic among residents and road users who trouped out to have a glimpse of the aircraft.

The aircraft with registration number 5N-BLN was relatively small in size and parked at the service lane of the expressway. It has the inscriptions ‘Capital Airlines’ with the tag: ‘Official Airlines of U-17 World Cup 2009’.

There are speculations that the aircraft belongs to Capital Oil company and it is believed to be one of the aircraft ordered to be removed by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, as part of efforts to de-congest the Murtala Muhammed International Airport.

Following the FAAN order there have been reports of the sighting of other aircraft of various sizes on the streets of Lagos, particularly in Igando, a Lagos surbub.

Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.