By Theodore Opara & Kingsley Adegboye
“We can’t breathe. We are dying in this axis of Lagos and need the government to come to our rescue.” These were some of the comments by some commuters that spoke with Vanguard Motoring, on Thursday, on the Mile 2-Badagry expressway traffic.
For over a month, the Lagos-Badagry expressway has become a nightmare to commuters and motorists plying the route. The government’s inability to fix potholes which turned to craters and gullies have made the road almost impassable, especially as the rains are here.
For instance, a journey that usually takes between five and 10 minutes from Oluti Bus Stop to Mile 2 now takes an average of five hours, if not a whole day.
The cause of this many hours in traffic is due to the failed portion of the Mile 2-Badagry Expressway under the Mile 2 pedestrian bridge, which has continued to compound the sufferings of the road users along the route.
Even the newly-constructed middle lane of the road, which is yet to be commissioned, has become a deathtrap to many motorists and their vehicles.
This section of the road has become heavily flooded to the extent that sports utility vehicles, SUV, cannot wade through it.
Old Road to the rescue and areas boys tollgates
A truck driver who spoke to Vanguard Motoring, but would not want his name in print, said the only saving grace on the route is the dilapidated Old Ojo Road off the expressway, though at a high risk.
He said: “Often, we have to pay some amount of money to area boys before they would allow us to pass through the road. We part with as much as N2,000 on such illegal toll gates or risk losing some of our goods if we can’t afford the toll.
“These area boys claim to be working for the local government and could treat you the way they like. Even at that, you could spend more than three hours to link the expressway again at Mile 2.
“Only yesterday (Thursday), a 40-foot container fell on this section of the road and has not yet been removed.”
Mr. Chibuzo Okafor, owner of a Toyota Highlander, who plies the road to his office at Apapa, told Vanguard that he had been attacked in the traffic between Oluti and Alakija bus stops a number of times.
He said he was always scared of what could happen anytime he passed through the road. According to him, there is a gang of bad boys who attack road users at this section of the road with all manner of weapons.
The bandits dispossess people of their phones and other valuables.
Also, Mr. George Nze, a businessman showed Vanguard a matchet cut on his hand from bandits at the Oluti Bus Stop. He appealed to the government to act fast and solve the traffic gridlock along this axis of the road.
Said he: “We can’t breathe here. We are suffering from traffic gridlock, pollution, armed robbery attacks among others. All these are weighing on our necks and anything can happen if the problem is not addressed urgently.
“What would it cost the government to fill the damaged parts of the road with granites as palliative, pending when a permanent solution would be found for the road?”
No silver lining
On this Mile 2-Badagry Expressway issue, commuters and motorists expecting succour in terms of palliative repairs of the road in the near future, indications suggest that would wait for a long time.
While Lagos State government seems unresponsive, the Federal Government prefers to fix the road once and for all, as the cost of effecting palliative measures is becoming unbearable to the government.
In a chat with Vanguard Motoring, the Federal Controller of Works in Lagos, Engr. Kayode Popoola, explained that the Federal Government had over the past carried out palliative works on federal roads in Lagos.
According to him, several times after such repairs, the rains come and wash away the palliative works, thereby resulting to waste of fund on the part of government.
He regretted that since the fund is not readily available to continue to carry out the repairs that would last for a long time, government had decided not to do further palliative works on roads that have been awarded for reconstruction, which is the permanent solution.
He appealed to motorists to wait for the total reconstruction, which is the permanent solution.
Meanwhile, Lagos State government officials have continued to shift blame over whose responsibility it is to carry palliative intervention on the failed portions of the road.
When contacted, the Public Affairs Officer of the Lagos State Public Works Corporations, Mr. Gani Lawal, whose agency is saddled with the responsibility of rehabilitating roads in the state, directed our reporter to the State Ministry of Works and Infrastructure for comments.
“It is not within our scope; the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure will be the appropriate source,” he said.
Meanwhile, efforts to reach the Special Adviser on Works and Infrastructure to the Lagos State governor, Aramide Adeyoye, for reaction on the issue was unsuccessful, as her media aide promised (but failed) to get back to us since Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Vanguard Motoring gathered that a middle-aged man was crushed to death by a trailer while trying to navigate the spot. The trailer had rolled backward and smashed the man who was by the roadside.
An eyewitness said the man died on the spot, his blood splashed all over the road.
The angry eyewitness told Vanguard Motoring that they have lost count of how many trucks had fallen at the spot and called for the government’s intervention to prevent more deaths.