By Kingsley Adegboye & Victor Ahiuma-Young
The lingering chaotic traffic situation on the Mile Two/Berger/Coconut axis of the Oshodi/Apapa Expressway has taken an alarming turn for the worse, as truck and tanker drivers have taken over the entire expressway thereby denying other road users access.
Subsequently, motorists and commuters who ply the road to gate way to the nation’s economy, have called on President Muhammadu Buhari, to use the opportunity of his visit to Lagos today to visit Oshodi/Apapa Expressway to see the hellish situation people go through on daily basis on the ever busy dual carriage way for him to make a categorical pronouncement on the road.
The gridlock, which extended from Ijesha to Sun Rise, was caused by the large number of tanker drivers who were desperate to load petroleum products because of the two days Easter holidays declared by the federal government, forced many commuters to trek long distances.
For road users who spoke to Vanguard said they passed through hell to get to their destinations. Narrating his experience, a road user, Ahmed Yusuf, who said he had been in the traffic for over three hours, lamented that the Apapa situation had become unbearable, pointing out that that the inter-section point along Otto wharf had remained a difficult spot because of gridlock.
According to him, “This traffic is all the way from Second rainbow.
I had to find my way to Agboju to make the journey easy. On getting there, I realised that Agboju was also blocked. Now, I have been in this traffic for the past two hours. This journey should not have taken more than one hour.
“The Apapa traffic right now is beyond anybody’s imagination. It is only the Federal Government that can salvage the situation. It is understandable that Lagos State government has done its best. It is a complicated situation because even if you ask that the tank farms be moved, what about the ports? As a matter of fact, only the Federal Government can decide what should happen on this road.”
Another motorist, who simply identified herself as John Okafor, said the pain people went through just to travel a short distance was unimaginable. He said: “It is incredible what people pass through here.
I have spent more than two hours just to move from Mile 2 to the customs outpost in Otto Wharf and I am going to Apapa later. It was quite bad on Tuesday, but for the in-patience of other drivers yesterday’s situation became complicated.”
There is no disputing the fact that Oshodi/Apapa Expressway in Lagos State, is one of the country’s busiest roads. As a result of the heavy human and vehicular traffic on the road daily, wear and tear is expected to equally be rapid; hence the need for concerned authorities to always be on hand to attend to such occurrences.
But the unfolding scenario on this road, suggests either a sloppy pace of doing so, or outright insensitivity on the part of government, in attending to the plight of the road users, on the one hand.
On the other hand, it suggests the inability of government to curb the excesses of articulated vehicle drivers, especially tanker and truck drivers, who constitute a great deal of nuisance from the Sunrise, Westminster and Warehouse bus stops to the Coconut Bus Stop axis of the road.
Consequently, a lengthy stretch of this part of the road, especially the service lane, has been deserted by other motorists for trucks and tankers.
For a greater part of the day, moving trucks snake around the service lane, in spaces left unoccupied by stationary ones. This picture is also reflected on the expressway proper, where stationary and moving tankers suffocate other road users.
Beyond taking up nearly every available space, the carelessness displayed by these drivers, coupled with the ever-expanding craters on the road, usually lead to these articulated vehicles tumbling down every now and then causing severe traffic snarl.
The bad state of this stretch of the road, is further worsened by the clogged drains, which to a large extent, ensure that vast stretches of the road remain flooded weeks after a heavy downpour.
Considering the fact that this road leads to one of Nigeria’s busiest and biggest sea port- the Tincan Port- several tank farms and other money-spinning businesses, one would have thought that keeping it in good shape would be a top priority of government, but the reverse is the case.
Now, residents and commuters have resigned themselves to their fate, while some businesses there continue to count their loses.
A resident of the area, Mrs. Florence Nwachukwu, pleads with the government to come to their aide, as cars and buses find it increasingly difficult to meander their way.
“It feels like the government has completely abandoned us because with all our pleas, we have nothing to show for it. From the traffic gridlock, to tankers parked on the expressway, to the refuse dumps that are sprouting up, nothing has been done so far. Now, parts of the road have gradually deteriorated making it difficult for cars and buses to navigate through, especially when it rains, and the potholes in these failed portions of the road continue to widen in size, as rainwater washes off the remaining part.
“Only trailers and heavy trucks with big tyres can access these roads well enough, although it takes them longer time to move short distances. Once they try to move a bit fast, these craters cause them to fall down. The moment this happens, the road becomes practically impassable because of the high number of cars that are jostling to go through the narrowed lanes,” she added.
Consequent upon this ugly development, most motorists have resorted to using link roads around the area to cut off from the expressway.
Sadly, most of these link roads are no better, but simply manageable. Those that are not keen on doing so resort to driving against the traffic, a situation that has become the new normal.
“I have been navigating through this road for years now, and I must say it is not easy using the link roads because they are also always overcrowded, even though not flooded like the expressway when there is a downpour”, he stated.