By Bose Adelaja & Olayinka Latona
”What is the essence of the Vanguard report of Tuesday, December 16, 2014 which assured of free-flow of traffic on Oshodi/Apapa expressway today?” Alhaji Aborishade Akeem soliloquised last Thursday.
His expectation was to arrive Tin Can Port as early as 8.00 a.m. to obtain a vital document sent by his uncle residing overseas but that was far from his expectation as he was among many others held up in the gridlock at Second Rainbow Bus Stop around 10.00 a.m.
As a result of the gridlock, he could not meet up with the appointment as his uncle called that he had another appointment at Epe area of Lagos.
Alhaji Aborishade was not the only one in similar dilemma as many members of the Vanguard Media Limited family suffered the same fate on Thursday December 18 when the Oshodi-Apapa gridlock was on stand still for hours. While some pointed accusing fingers on the slow pace of work on the road by construction giant, Julius Berger as well as traffic managers, others blamed the Petroleum Tanker Drivers who formed the bulk of vehicles snaking their way to the tank farms on the stretch ostensibly to load petroleum products.
Peoples’ expectations were high and plans were in top gear for the end-of-the-year mid-morning praise/thanksgiving service billed for Vanguard Media Limited that day featuring the much sought-after man of God and General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God RCCG, Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye amongst others.
The Nigeria Police, Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, and Lagos State Transport Management Authority, LASTMA, had earlier pledg-ed to ensure free-flow of traffic on the road. True to their words, as early as 7.00 a.m. the security/traffic manage-ment outfits had deployed operatives to manage the situation.
Slow pace of construction work on the road was a major source of concern to road users but the construction company had the previous day assured organisers of the programme of maximum cooperation, promising to remove all barricades on the road on Thursday morning. In To avoid hitches some senior members of the Fellowship stayed back in the office especially as the musical equipment and canopies were yet to arrive. All through the night they were monitoring and keeping tab on the various persons who were trapped in the traffic.
The gridlock had stretched from Second Rainbow to Coconut such that commuters either trekked long distances or decided to risk their lives by climbing banned okada on the expressway to arrive their various destinations. The man of God was not spared; as he spent over three hours between Second Rainbow and Vanguard premises.
Sharing his experience on the road, the ultra-busy Pastor Adeboye who had just concluded the Holy Ghost Congress, said he honoured the invitation due to his respect for Vanguard.
“I am here today because of the respect I have for Vanguard. I am supposed to rest after the congress. I could imagine you going through this traffic situation everyday. Definitely you need prayers and I will increase my prayers for you. I appreciate the publisher, editors and all staff of Vanguard Media Limited. I thank the Almighty God for Vanguard…I pray there will be mighty testimonies next time we will be coming to this organisation.”
Asked to comment on the development, Religion Editor of Vanguard, Sam Eyoboka said the management of the organisation had made frantic efforts to ensure free flow of traffic on the day but it turned out to be a day that everything simply refused to cooperate. “We got the assurances from LASTMA, Police, FRSC and the construction giant, Julius Berger but the operatives may have been overwhelmed. They were on ground very earlier in the morning as promised but the situation was overwhelming, the inter-vention came too late, too little and was beyond control. Daddy G.O., a sticker to time, was held up for three hours.’
“Did you also noticed that the equipment whih spent the entire night on the road also malfunctioned during Daddy’s ministration; that he had move away from the pulpit, to the centre of the congregation?” Mr. Eyoboka lamented, using the occasion to apologise to respected spiritual leader for the multiple embarrassment.
On its part, Petroleum Tanker Drivers, PTD, exonerated itself from blame, saying the gridlock was caused by Yuletide rush. According to its Lagos State Public Relations Officer, Mr. Tayo Aboyeji, ”we put up various measures to ease the gridlock but all tankers in Nigeria came to lift fuel today as a result of Christmas rush. As a matter of fact, containers blocked the access road and the tankers were seriously affected by the gridlock.”
Efforts to reach LASTMA Public Relations Officer, Mrs. Bola Ajao proved abortive as she did not respond to her calls.
A Vanguard staff, Barrister Donald Iyashere said, like many other members of staff, he arrived the premises on a motorcycle to avoid lateness.
”I joineda motorcycle from Second Rainbow to beat the gridlock, if not, I would have been trapped for hours,” he noted.
‘To Mr. Sunday Collins, the gridlock was something he never envisaged. ”My re-sumption time is 4.00 p.m. but I resumed around 12.00 p.m. to catch up with the pro-gramme. The gridlock was severe and I had to join a motorcycle.”