June 25, 2023

Mother of all traffic: Motorists spend seven hours in Lagos/Ibadan Expressway gridlock

Lagos-Ibadan expressway gridlock: Passengers trek long distance to reach destinations

•Lament govt insensitivity

By Olasunkanmi Akoni & Kingsley Adegboye

Lagos-Ibadan Expressway traffic is now so bad that vendors cook and sell rice and beans in open plates, wait for you to finish eating, collect the plate and wash to serve the next vehicle. This is how bad the gridlock is”, a motorist lamented to Sunday Vanguard yesterday.

For about two weeks running, the unending construction of Lagos-Ibadan Expressway has continued to subject motorists and commuters to untold hardship, with many spending up to seven hours in traffic.

In what has now been described by some as the “mother of all gridlock”, motorists and commuters plying the expressway woke up yesterday morning to the terrible traffic which affected mostly outward Lagos and Berger environs. There were stranded commuters sighted around Kara bridge, trekking to their various destinations.

The gridlock has often time resulted in auto crashes.

Those who spoke with Sunday Vanguard narrated their ordeal which they described as “horrible.”

They lamented loss of loved ones to accidents, loss of man-hours and suffering health challenges due to the traffic caused by the ongoing reconstruction of the expressway.

They also accused the traffic management team on the road, comprising men of the police, Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, and state agencies, of insensitivity, even to the point of allowing motorists to drive one-way instead of enforcing road transport codes for seamless movement.

To Mr Yomi Lawal, a worker on the Island, travelling through the popular Lagos-Ibadan Expressway to his workplace has become a cross he must carry daily.

The movement, to him, has become horrendous as he spends about three hours instead of 20 minutes between Mowe and Otedola Bridge in Lagos due to the prolonged traffic situation on the expressway.

“Many motorists no longer go to their offices in their cars. They leave them at home and take commercial buses or motorcycles (Okada) to Berger Bus Stop in Lagos from where they continue the journey, depending on the nature of traffic jam,” Lawal said.

He called on the Federal Government to mount pressure on the contractor handling the road construction to expedite action on the project, noting that many people living along the Mowe-Ibafo axis have relocated to Lagos due to the daily gridlock, while travellers diverted to Ikorodu-Sagamu Road and in the process spending long hours everyday

Another road user, Christianah Dada, a business woman, also narrated her ordeal.

According to her, the seemingly unending road construction has resulted in loss of human lives, time and money.

She recalled a particular Monday morning she left home around 4.a.m. but could not get to her destination at Ojota until 11.00 a.m, after spending about seven hours in the gridlock.

“The experience goes on for six days every week. It is terrible. I don’t have good sleep anymore, I don’t have enough rest. This is inimical to good health. We need help”, Christianah said

According to a commercial bus driver, Tajudeen Alao, commuters always have a hard time navigating the long bridge due to the traffic situation.

He said the traffic situation has been compounded by preparations for Sallah festivities with high influx of traffic, while expressing the hope that the ordeal will be over soon.

He said: “This situation has really affected me and other bus drivers. We buy fuel at an exorbitant price and end up burning it our in traffic. It is a big loss for many commercial drivers since the beginning of the road reconstruction.”

Earlier, stakeholders, comprising officials of the Federal Ministry of Work and Housing, the Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA, Ogun State Traffic Compliance and Enforcement Agency, TRACE, the Nigeria Police, among others, had considered new measures to reduce gridlock on the expressway. One of the outcomes of the meeting was the setting up of a special task force, alongside other measures, to tackle the gridlock.

Lagos govt reacts

To ease off gridlock, Lagos State Government, on Friday, announced traffic diversion on the expressway and released alternative routes available for the motoring public.

Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Transportation, Abdulhafiz Toriola,who announced this in a statement, explained that traffic diversion on the road became imperative as construction work on the corridor reached its concluding stage.

He said the diversion plan as announced by the Federal Controller of Works in Lagos State, Mrs. Olukorede Kesha, slated for yesterday, had alternative routes open for commuters.

Toriola said the exit from the New Garage bus stop on Lagos bound carriageway enroute River Valley Estate, Isheri and Ogunusi Road would be closed to traffic.

The Permanent Secretary added that traffic from Kara Bridge on Lagos bound carriageway heading to River Valley Estate, Isheri and Ogunusi Road would then be diverted to the exit immediately after Kara Bridge through Limson Road to connect their respective destinations.

Meanwhile, as of press time, indications have shown that the directive has achieved little or no effect as motorists were trapped in traffic for several hours.