The failed Berliet portion of the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, worsened at the weekend, with no fewer than five heavy duty truck falling at different points along the road and creating serious traffic gridlock for Oshodi-bound vehicles between Saturday and Tuesday.
Indeed, the situation has been a nightmare for commuters caught between Cele Bus Stop and Ilasamaja, due to the “go-slow” which has become a daily occurrence on account of the deep craters that have taken over several portions of the ever-busy dual carriageway.
The traffic gridlock on this axis usually starts after Cele Bus Stop where the second phase of the reconstruction of the expressway stopped. The worst affected area is between Berliet and Ilasamaja which has developed deep gullies and craters. The scenario becomes very terrible whenever it rains.
On such days, traffic will stretch from Ijesha to Ilasamaja. Apart from the gridlock, trailer and truck drivers who are not familiar with the bad portions often find their vehicles falling on the road thereby worsening the situation of the road.
Vanguard investigation revealed that the normal palliative works being carried out by the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency FERMA annually, were not carried out before the rainy season. It was also learnt that the quantity of granite available for the palliative measure carried out by FERMA on Tuesday was not enough to cover the failed portions.
FERMA Engineer in charge of Lagos West which comprises Oshodi/Apapa Expressway, Kehinde Afolabi, said FERMA could not commence the palliative efforts due to paucity of funds to the Agency, pointing out however, that the Agency carried out temporary works of spreading granite on the dangerous portions of the road and clearing of the drains for free flow of traffic.
Afolabi, who noted that the failed portion of the road is under the third phase of the reconstruction of the entire expressway which begins from Cele down to the end of Oshodi, said whatever his Agency is doing now, is temporary because the portion will be reconstructed from the 2016 budget when it is eventually passed.
The FERMA official noted that his Agency has been intervening on the expressway even before the idea of reconstructing the entire stretch of the Apapa/Oshodi Expressway was muted. According to him, the Agency in a bid to make the road usable, had carried boulders and stone base materials to the bad spots for palliative repairs.
He gave reasons why the bad portions have continued to remain deplorable. According to him, the miscreants on the road have continued to sabotage the efforts of the government to bring succour to commuters who make use of the road by carrying out the needed maintenance on the road, but the miscreants who want to perpetuate evil on the road, usually dig gullies and widen the existing ones in a bid to slow down vehicles in order to perpetuate their evil plans.
He also blamed the situation on vulcanizers who throw old tyres in the drains and road side petty traders who discard their waste in the drains thereby causing the drains to be blocked, arguing that the rain water is supposed to be channelled through the drainage channel is forced onto the expressway because of the blocked drains.
“FERMA has been carrying out routine maintenance on those spots by applying boulders and stone base materials as well as cleaning of drainage channels and culverts around Berliet and Ilasamaja. This is still ongoing before permanent reinstatement of the expressway by the Federal Government. The problem with that part of the road is that it is the low point of the road. This explains why that part of the dual carriageway is usually flooded whenever it rains. However, to worsen the situation, vulcanizers will throw old tyres into the drains while road side petty traders will discard their waste into the drains thereby blocking the drains”, the FERMA official noted.
Meantime, the pledge by Lagos state government to fix the failed section of the road has not been fulfilled. It will be recalled that the state government some time last month through its Public Works Corporation pledged to fix the failed portion of the road starting from this month (April).
LSPWC Special Adviser/Chief Executive Officer, Mr Ayotunde Sodeinde, said the Corporation had already started extensive repairs works on Lagos-Badagry Expressway.
“We have started repairing over 10 bad spots on the Lagos-Badagry Expressway to reduce gridlock and hardship being faced by people plying the road.
“However, the present administration will commence the rehabilitation of Berliet axis of Apapa-Oshodi Expressway in April.
“Gov. Ambode’s administration is an all-inclusive government that wants all bad roads in the state to be fixed irrespective of its owner – federal, state or local.
“Hence, the urgent directive by the governor that the corporation should commence an extensive repair of Berliet axis of Apapa/Oshodi Expressway, which has been in a terrible state for a long time,” he said.
The special adviser assured residents of Lagos that the Corporation would continue road maintenance even with the approaching rainy season.
Sodeinde explained that materials more friendly with water such as paving stones and enforced concrete cement would be used on the roads.