…Traffic robbers upsurge on Third Mainland Bridge
…KAI warns ram sellers, traders from operating along alternative routes
…Agencies create special task team
By Olasunkanmi Akoni and Bose Adelaja
Three days after repair works commenced on faulty sections of Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos, motorists on Monday, expressed different views on the impacts of the partial closure of the bridge.
While some commended the strategic efforts and measures put in place by the state government to manage and control the attendant gridlock, others castigated the government for not doing enough to fix alternative routes, provide adequate security, as well as failure to remove trucks from major highways made available for vehicular movements.
Checks revealed some motorists followed the directional guidelines, while others were confused on the travel advisory, as they stuck to old order, but were later turned back to normal tracks by plethora of traffic and road safety personnel drafted to various spots
Recall that Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, had appealed to motorists to be extremely patient amid gridlock occasioned by the rehabilitation exercise.
When Vanguard monitored the situation on Monday, as early as 7 am, traffic in most parts of the metropolis was moving smoothly toll about 12 noon when the inward bound of Lagos Island was shut to traffic at Oworonsoki end of the bridge.
The traffic started building up at Funsho Williams Avenue to Alaska, Constain, Ijora to Island, Herbert Macaulay Way and Murtala Muhammed Way, all alternative routes for the partial closure.
Commercial bus drivers also seized the opportunity to hike transport fares to different destinations which commuters complained about of inflicting more hardship on them.
According Mr Adedayo Akinremi, a Banker on the Island and lives in Magodo, Mainland, “I must commend the state government for the measures put in place to ensure smooth movement. Though, its still very early to judge but as work progresses we will be to give real assessment of the situation but now.
”It’s still in order, though, I now leave home earlier than in used to. At least i left home today, Monday, around 4am against former 5.30 am.”
Mr Oguntade Olayinka, a commuter, lamented thus, “Government should help us, commuters put these commercial bus operators in check. They have jerked up the fares thereby compounding our plights. We didn’t cause the closure in the first place shifting the blame and the cost on innocent passengers.
“Though, we heard the state government planned to roll put 600 buses soon. I really don’t know how many of us will cope before the buses arrive and also throughout the period, honestly, something should be done fast.”
A motorist, Mr Albert Gerald, narrated his ordeal in the hands of the traffic armed robbers, thus.” Yesterday, Sunday, was hell and I would live to remember it for bad experience.
”Like myself, it was also the same for many Lagosians who were either robbed or thrown into anxiety for hours along Ojuelegba-Stadium-Barack road en-route Apapa and Lagos Island. It was a flipside of the THIRD MAINLAND BRIDGE closure and we all saw it coming.
“Perhaps an oversight on the part of Lagos state, security of lives and properties of residents who would get trap in traffic as a result of the pressure on Ikorodu road and other alternative routes wasn’t given much priority.
“As expected, the closure of the bridge has put more pressure on vehicular movement along Ikorodu road.i expected yesterday to be different from other days since it was closed but I was wrong. It turned out to be the Sunday Night of Horror and Anxiety.
“I had expected my trip to Apapa from Ogba to take approximately 1hr.15 minutes. I left Ogba by 6.30pm and got to Fadeyi before 7pm. I heaved a sigh of relief, not knowing that I had just begun a journey of trauma and apprehension.
”By the time I got to Oju-Elegba, it had almost become a standstill and shortly after the bridge, it came into a total lockdown. Another relief came when I saw few armed mobile policemen jumping out of their vans to go and clear the road for their bosses, supposedly top politicians. 30 minutes after, nothing changed and they returned without success.
“Unfortunately for the convoy, that was also trapped, there wasn’t any opening for them to escape and drive against traffic. They were in two groups. After spending about three hours, the opportunity came and the convoy saw a small opportunity to turn. To cut it short there was chaos as traffic robbers took over robbing trapped motorists at gun point.
“Though we all rained curses on the assailants -we blamed government (both state and federal) for not being proactive enough to foresaw the security threat that could come with the new traffic regime.
“Many people think police should have been strategically positioned along the road as it was done on the 3rd Mainland until recently, to ward off unwanted guests. Governor Sanwo-Olu, kindly think about this sir.”
Mr Olaleye Kayode recounted,” Some cars on Monday, held in traffic were robbed shortly before getting to the ring road at 3:45pm. The criminals were three, one on a bike on the other side of the bridge while two others were robbing motorists. I managed to escape the attack by a whisker.”
“This is just the first traffic day on Third Mainland Bridge and the crime has begun. More is required for security of lives and properties. Six months is a long time.”
Meanwhile, the State Environmental Sanitation Corps (KAI) has warned traders whose activities have been hampering free flow of trafficin the axis to desist or face the wrath of the law.
KAI vowed to ease the axis of any impediment mostly caused by trading activities lamenting that activities of food traders (vegetables) who mostly occupy major part of the road for offloading and selling of their products have resulted in heavy traffic gridlock around the Oyingbo Market and the Lagos Mainland environment.
Speaking at the Command Headquarters, Bolade-Oshodi, the Corps Marshal of the Agency, Commissioner of Police, CP, Akinpelu Gbemisola (Rted) said Oyingbo-Iddo via Carter Bridge is one of the alternative routes to ease traffic movement into the Island during the repairs and as such, the agency operatives tagged: “OYINGBO RESCUE TEAM” who have been stationed in the last three months to curb the activities of some recalcitrant traders would be fortified to ensure significant improvement is achieved towards reducing to the barest minimum, the activities of the traders and drivers who disrupt free traffic movement around the axis.
He also warned against selling of rams on the highways as Muslims shop for the Eid-el Kabir, Sallah, on Friday.
The Corp Marshal stated that the readiness to ease traffic gridlock in Oyingbo was occasioned by the partial closure.
Akinpelu further stated that the agency would be working with other enforcement agencies such as: the Police, Lagos State Neighbourhood and Safety Corps (LNSC), Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), Central Business District (CBD) and other security operatives to prevent any trading activities before, during and after the closure across the state.
Also, she frowned at the unending gridlock, reduction in road capacity, general obstructions as a result of commercial activities (indiscriminate parking and trading) especially during the Sallah period saying that necessary action would be taken against any erring individual or group of persons.
Also, the Director-General, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), Dr. Femi Oke-Osanyintolu, said the agency has activated it’s preparedness plan code named “OPERATION STORM” to handle emergency activities throughout the partial closure of the bridge.
He said the preparedness plan entails deployment of the agency’s light and heavy-duty equipment and dedicated personnel between with the view to ease the movement of people, service and commodities along the routes affected by the partial closure of the bridge.