By Theodore Opara
Commuters in Lagos State are groaning under heavy traffic, as trucks and tankers have taken over the roads.
Since the beginning of the rainy season, several portions of the roads have become so bad that small vehicles hardly go through. Some of these roads have deteriorated, thereby causing unending traffic jams.
Although most expressways are under rehabilitation, which compounds the traffic jam in the state, traffic jams resulting from bad roads have been causing nightmares to residents in the last few months.
One of the worst-hit expressways is the Mile Two-Badagry expressway, under the pedestrian bridge, which has become a no-go area for small vehicles. This is because the depth of the failed portions has continued to increase with the rains.
The crater under the bridge, coupled with flooded part of the road have been responsible for the hours of traffic jam encountered by motorists on that portion of the road.
Two footbridges, one heading from Orile to Badagry and the other along Oshodi- Apapa Expressway, opposite Fatgbems Filling Station have remained as nightmares to motorists and commuters, who rush on a daily basis to beat the 10 o’clock curfew.
As a result of the bad spots, motorists spend several hours to manoeuvre through the spot. At night, these spots have become fertile grounds for hoodlums who rob people of their valuables.
Apart from these, the area boys now mount several tollgates for motorists who dare to use the nearby open spaces or parks to avoid being caught in the traffic.
Meanwhile, a non-governmental organisation, the Safety Beyond Borders, has disclosed that motorists are losing over N6 billion annually on extra fuel on their vehicles due to the traffic gridlocks.
Mr. Patrick Adenusi, Director of the NGO, who revealed this in a chat with Vanguard Motoring, said the loss could increase further if the government fails to adopt a new approach to fighting the menace.
He said that on a daily basis, more than N5 million worth of extra fuel is wasted by motorists on Lagos gridlocks. Movement in the state has become so difficult that it takes about three hours to drive from Festac Town to Victoria Island and Lekki, a distance of about 10 kilometres.
He said: “We are losing a huge amount of money as a result of traffic gridlocks in Lagos State. The loss to traffic gridlocks coming to Lagos alone in terms of extra fuel consumption is more than N500 million monthly.
“If you put this together for a period of 12 months you would see that over N6 billion is wasted on extra fuel by motorists in Lagos, not to talk about the wear and tear on the vehicles, roads, health implications due to pollution, and security challenges,” the expert said.
Adenusi, who to a large extent exonerated the ongoing rehabilitation of roads in the state from the gridlocks said: “Rather than blaming the repairs for the gridlock, the attitude of motorists and road user have been major contributors to the gridlock.”
According to him, the road rehabilitation is accounting for only ten percent of the traffic problem in the state, while the rest is attitudinal.
His words: “It is the attitude of the road users that is compounding the traffic situation in the state. We know that Nigerian roads are designed for a certain capacity of traffic and lanes.
“Take Ikorodu road or Lekki corridor for instance, which are three lanes on each side. Desperate that, motorists usually create three additional lanes on each side, thereby making traffic flow impossible. With this, and other forms of indiscipline on the road, heavy traffic in Lagos has become a way of life on Lagos and other roads in the country.
“If we change our attitude on the road, travel time will be reduced and improved for a shorter time and cost less, too. Scratches on vehicles will equally reduce and there will be fewer quarrels on the road, as a result of minor scratches and accidents.”
He explained that all over the country, people drive very closely to one another and when there are incidents of fire outbreak, it will be difficult for motorists to escape or save the vehicles.
He commended the state government for the rehabilitation of roads, saying it will make the roads more motorable, reduce travel time, ensure better health and increase the lifespan of the vehicles.
He recommended that the government should employ very strong advocacy and enforcement it will go a long way in checking the gridlock.
On the heavy traffic in Lagos and disorderly motorists, he added: “Everywhere in the world, governments realize money from lawbreakers; they should punish motorists who create multiple lanes with huge fines to serve as a deterrent to others who would like to abuse the rules.
“The lanes must be marked, and road signs installed with strong advocacy and enforcement.”