Traffic on Lagos roads is something that has been part of the city for a very long time. It is common to hear residents of Lagos or visitors complain of the traffic condition. Well, those who have not visited Mile 2 or Apapa recently would not realize that the gridlock in other parts of Lagos is nothing compared to what motorists and commuters go through there.
Moving from Oshodi to Badagry, for instance, is an experience one would not want to forget in a hurry. Unfortunately for some residents, they have no choice. They have to ply that route almost every day to eke out a living, while continuing to groan under the unending traffic chaos at the Mile 2 end of Apapa-Oshodi Expressway caused by petroleum tankers and trailers.
As the gridlock continues, it’s inconceivable for people who do not really have any serious business in those affected areas of Lagos to undertake a trip there. But those who live in Festac and work in Ikeja and other areas outside of that vicinity have limited choices to get to their destinations.
Having heard so much and read a lot about the traffic situation in that axis, The Next Edition took a trip from Ikeja to Apapa to find out what motorists are going through. During the trip, it was discovered that petroleum tankers and trailers were lined up on the road all the way from Cele Bus stop to Mile 2 and stretched to Okokomaiko.
From Mile 2 to Apapa is another frustrating journey. It is impossible for cars to make that journey. The only means is by making use of motor bikes popularly called “Okada.” The fare is N500. Those who go to and fro every day, spend nothing less than N 1000.
The path for the bikes is very narrow as tankers are parked on the roads. As tight as it is, the bike men do not move with caution, they drive at high speed. Tanker drivers also compete with these bike men in driving recklessly.
The situation was bad a few years ago. Now it has been compounded by ongoing rehabilitation work. It was learnt that the Nigerian Ports Authority, Dangote Group and the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing are jointly handling the rehabilitation work estimated to cost N4.34bn.
As a result of the gridlock, commercial bus drivers between Cele Bus-stop and Mile 2/Berger now drive against the traffic by using ‘one way’ on the expressway.
This illegal way of driving has also led to accidents in recent times. Many motorists have blamed the violation of traffic rules on the lingering traffic-gridlock in that axis caused by tankers and trailers that have been stationed on either side of the road.
A commercial bus driver who gave his name simply as Omololu said “My brother this is what we go through every day. Without taking one way, it will take us hours to get to our destination. Unlike private vehicles on the road, we have to move from Ikeja to Mile 2 and back to Ikeja more than once. Without us, passengers would be stranded. Aside from that, if we decide to obey traffic rules, it would be bad for business. This is the job we use to feed ourselves and families.”
Continuing he said “It is not our fault; it is the fault of the government that has abandoned this roads.”
A student of Federal Government College Ijanikin, Lagos, Tunde Fadipe is pleading with the government to do something urgently to ease their suffering.
He said, “We students are really suffering. Going to school and coming back home has been a serious torture. I stay in Mile 2 and go to school at Ijanikin. I wake up as early as 5a.m but I don’t make it to school till around 9a.m.
“A few years ago, in less than one hour I would be in school. But now I spend about four hours on the road. Government should come to our rescue as soon as possible because we are really suffering,” he cried out.
Christina Nwankwo who lives in Festac and works in Ikeja said, “I am not always happy leaving my home. I work in Ikeja and I have to be there Monday to Friday. From Cele to Festac, I used to spend about 20 minutes on the road. Now if I spend two hours, I thank God because most times, it is three to four hours. It is unbearable. I spend my weekends indoors because of the stress I go through every week. What have we done as citizens of this country to go through this much pain? Why aren’t our leaders concerned?” she queried.
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For the commercial bus drivers, ‘one way’ driving has become a normal practice as law enforcements agents look the other way. Men of the Lagos State Traffic Management (LASTMA), Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) and the Nigerian police seem to have endorsed this reckless driving on the road, perhaps as a way out of the quagmire.
The risk involved is enormous, no doubt. The Next Edition gathered that at least four lives are lost in a week. While those who are in the hospitals are alive to tell their story, some others cannot speak because they are dead.
Recently, an okada rider was crushed to death by a speeding truck after he lost control of his bike at Cele Bus-stop. In another incident, a pregnant woman who was unaware of the ‘one way’ system that has been recently adopted by commercial bus drivers in order to beat traffic also lost her life while trying to cross the road.
Apart from accidents as a result of the Apapa ‘madness,’ some motorists have been robbed at gun point in the heavy traffic.
The Next Edition learnt that men of the underworld have taken advantage of the traffic condition to rob motorists.
Narrating her ordeal in the hands of armed robbers, Ms Abimbola Teslim, a boutique owner on Allen Avenue, ikeja said, “Early this year, I was robbed between Alaba express and second rainbow. I was heading to my house at Mile 2 Estate. The robbery took place around eight o’clock in the night. I remember there was heavy rain that day. I was driving with a cousin of mine and a neighbour in my estate. The robbers were four in number. One was with me, one stayed in front of the car; one was at the other side and another one with the lady at the back.
When asked if the criminals covered their faces, she said, ‘‘no, they did not cover their faces. They were young men and they looked rough. They collected my phone, Ipad and my neighbour’s bag. They also collected my cousin’s bag and phone.”
Speaking further, she said, “Other motorists saw what was going on but they had to mind their business because they were scared. After they collected the items, they left.”
“That was my first experience in that area. People get robbed regularly there. We reported to the police but nothing concrete has been done,” she told The Next Edition.
However, an Assistant Superintendent of Police, Adamu Mohammed, who’s station is at Kirikiri, Apapa, is of the view that the police are working round the clock to ensure that commuters have no fear while moving along that axis.
He said, “It is unfair to say the police are not doing much. Let me remind you that about three months ago, three armed robbers were caught by the Rapid Response Squad. They operated in traffic along Mile 2 bridges.
“One of the suspects explained how he and 19 other gang members robbed motorists of their belongings in the traffic.”
Commenting on the development, Police PRO, CSP Chike Oti, stated that Police are intensifying efforts towards arresting traffic robbers in Mile 2 and other parts of the state.
The onus lies on the government to quickly respond to the yearnings of the people.
If there is no rapid response, the situation will get worse. Movement will be impossible because there is no alternate route for the motorists.
An English astronomer, Francis Baily, once said, “A stitch in time saves nine.”