Preaches patience, compliance to traffic guidelines
Commuters shun private flight service
By Olasunkanmi Akoni, Bose Adelaja and Bunmi Azeez
Following the commencement of six months of repair work on the Third Mainland Bridge, with attendant partial closure, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has appealed to motorists to exercise great patience amid gridlock occasioned by the rehabilitation exercise.
The Federal Government, in collaboration with Lagos State Government, which kicked off the repair works at about 12 midnight, on Friday, July 24 into 25, with closure to motorists will execute the job through road alternation at intervals, within the hours of peak periods, mornings and evenings.
The closure is to allow for repairs on faulty expansion joints and bearings of the bridge as identified and scheduled to last for six months till January 24, 2021.
When Vanguard visited the site in the early hours on Saturday, July 25 motorists were seen moving steadily in attendant gridlock across the alternative routes made available for vehicular movements into Island and Mainland during the period.
As early as 7 am, traffic had gradually started building along alternative routes, such as Herbert Macaulay Way, Funsho Williams, Oworosonki Expressway, in spite of the fact that motorists inward bound Island had free access and was later shut on 12 noon.
However, men of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA, the Nigeria Police, Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, among other agencies were seen in strategic points controlling traffic to ensure easy movement of vehicles.
The situation is expected to have a different dimension when workers on both the Mainland and Island are expected to resume work.
Some of the alternative routes include Herbert Macaulay, sectional patching from Carter Bridge to Oyingbo, Makoko junction, Murtala Muhammed Way, Jibowu under bridge inward Yaba, Apapa Road, Costs on the roundabout, African/Abule NLA Road, connecting Funsho Williams, among others.
Sanwo-Olu, however, on Saturday, paid an unscheduled inspection tour of the bridge to have on the spot assessment of the traffic situation.
The Governor, after the inspection, spoke with newsmen, appealing to motorists to be extremely patient, saying “its for the safety of the people in general.”
According to Sanwo-Olu, “I’m here to supervise the kick.off of the work. The traffic’s not really as bad. What you see is that at weekends there are a lot of movements on 3 rd Mainland Bridge. That’s why you see the tailback of traffic.
“The section of the bridge shit is less than six kilometres. So people coming from Oworonsoki can still have unhindered access to the bridge up to Adekunle to rejoin the normal lane enroute their destinations.
“So the communication here is patience that’s what we really need to tell our people. Our traffic and security men are on the ground to help motorists. If we exercise about 10 to 20 minutes of patience we will be able to ramp up and get back to normal lanes.
“When this is done, on no time we all get to our destinations seamlessly. There absolutely no need to panic.”
On the complaint by motorists over the bad state of some alternative routes, Sanwo-Olu, said, “its work in progress. You can not eat an omelette without breaking the egg. There are so many things we are fixing altogether. 95 if not 100 per cent of our people move through road
“Our mid and long term solution is to see how we move people via intermodal transportation systems, like rail and waterways. That’s why we are opening up jetties. But like I said, the number one solution is patience and obey all traffic officers and rules.”
On the proposed Third Mainland Bridge construction, Sanwo-Olu, said, “We are still working on it. We shortlisted about 35 bidders and now scaled down to six bidders.
“Presently, we are carrying out a biometric study on water, Environmental Impact Assessment, EIA, and a host of others. All these take a while. And in two years, we will begin to see the bridge across Badore to Mainland.”
Recall, earlier, Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Gbenga Omotosho, urged motorists not to panic, rather should cooperate with traffic officers in order to enhance a smooth and hitch-free movement.
The state Commissioner for Transportation, Mr. Frederic Oladeinde, also urged, “Lagosians need not be worried about the closure because 75 per cent section of the road will not be affected.”
The commissioner stated further that alternative routes are already in place for the 25 per cent section affected by the road.
He appealed to motorists to give maximum cooperation to the traffic officers that would be deployed to put the situation under control, saying “they are to work for 24 hours within the period.”
The Special Adviser to the State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Works, Engr. Aramide Adeyoye, also assured motorists of seamless movement, adding that 10 alternative routes identified had been rehabilitated and ready for use throughout the duration of the project.
Day one situation report
On the first day of the closure, it was a busy movement for motorists in and around the rehabilitation areas. The gridlock was more pronounced around Yaba, Oyingbo, Funsho Williams Avenue as there was a high influx of motorists making use of the alternative roads.
In line with the call to make use of waterways as other means of transportation during the period, commuters stormed Lagos jetties over as alternative means of transport to the roads
As early as 6.am, some of the commuters were noticed around the jetties awaiting the resumption of water transportation operators.
A visit to Ipakodo, Ibese, Ofin, and Bayeku in the Ikorodu axis and Ebute-Ero in Lagos Island recorded huge turn out of commuters compared to what it was before the partial closure of the bridge.
Surprisingly, Saturday’s there was a huge resurgence on patronage, apparently, due to the partial closure of the bridge.
In a chat with Sunday Vanguard, some commuters said that was their first time to travel on water.
One of them Anthony Ifeayin, said he decided to go by water because he envisaged gridlock on-road as well as the need to move faster which quite easy-going by waterways.
At Ipakodo, a family of three was spotted discussing how to board separately to avoid the risk as they have been victims of boat mishap in the year 2017.
The head of the family, Comrade Elemoro Lukman said his family was involved in a mishap in 2017 on their way to CMS. Fortunately for them, some fishermen came to their rescue before the arrival of the government rescue team.
He narrated thus, “Time was about 7.40 am when our boat left Ipakodo for Ebute-Ero. My wife and three children were all in the ill-fated boat when it was struck by a log of wood which pierced it. Immediately, water found its way into the boat and we started sinking.
“In the ensuing melee, the boat operator announced that we should start jumping into the Lagoon for safety.
“Sitting behind me was a woman Police and her husband who happened to be an official of LASTMA. The husband jumped into the Lagoon but the wife could not and the boat sank.
“Although he tried diving in order to rescue her the fishermen urged him against it to avoid both of them sinking together.
“Her body was recovered the following day and since then, I made up my mind to stop boarding the same boat with my family.”
Another commuter Mrs. Adebola Salvage said she prefers water transportation to the road, “I resume work at 8 am in Lagos Island, leaves Ikorodu by 7 am and by 7.50 am, I had arrived my office without fatigue. Similarly, I close from the office at 5 pm to arrive at my house at 6 pm, whereas, I can’t try that on-road without paying dearly for it,”
Asked about safety on the water, she said, “It is only God who keeps us safe regardless of the amount of safety by the government. It is Almighty God that declares the end from the beginning,”
Also at Ipakodo, Sunday Vanguard observed a long queue of commuters awaiting the government-owned ferry and upon inquiry, it was discovered that they charge N600 to CMS while the 22-passenger speed boats now carry 10 passengers at N1,000 due to the social distancing order.
In a chat with the General Manager Lagos State Waterways Authority Oluwamilola Emmanuel, he put the resumption time of waterways worker at 6.30 am and closing time at 7 pm.
He said all major jetties and terminal in the state would become fully operational with effect from Monday 27th July 2020, .
Emmanuel said, “Specifically we would focus more attention on Ilaje-Bariga and several other jetties in Ikorodu axis which are expected to serve many commuters on the Mainland as well as Ebute-Ero, Falomo, and Badore-AjahTerminals on the Island.
“Other measures put in place by the Authority is the safety awareness for Ferry Operators and other waterways users, Overloading and Night travels on the waterways is highly prohibited, Boat Operators must always ensure their boats are in perfect conditions while passengers are expected to always wear a standard life jacket before embarking on a journey.”
At the jetties visited, there was a high level of compliance especially on the use of safety jackets although some looked worn- out and require change.
Commuters shun private flight services
Sequel to the closure, residents started looking for alternative ways of evading the impending traffic that the closure would cause.
While many are looking for a way to avoid traffic, others are already looking for ways to make profits out of the situation.
This is like a privately owned and operated helicopter company (name withheld) has announced available flights from the Lagos Island to the mainland areas.
It was, however, gathered that passengers have shunned the shuttle service apparently, due to exorbitant fare being charged by the operator.