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For Lagos airport, no thoroughfare!

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Govt ‘abandons’ Lagos Airport link-bridge to okada riders
Air transport remains the fastest and safest mode of transport globally. But to get to the Lagos Airport these days, you will need the least safest means – commercial motorcycle, otherwise called okada!

Especially if you are coming from Mile 2, Apapa or Badagry-end of the Lagos commercial nerve centre, and intend to link the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) gateway, your best bet in record time is the outlawed okada riders.

Reason: the access bridge linking the ever-busy Apapa-Oshodi Expressway to Murtala Muhammed Airport corridor, at the Apakun interchange end, has been ‘temporarily’ shut after it failed integrity tests following a fire incident in January this year. And for three months now, neither the Federal Government nor the Lagos State administartion knows what to do with the critical infrastructure.

Worst still, alternative access routes to the busiest airport corridor were this week cut-off from motorists. While road reconstruction has shifted to the service lanes on the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, access to Osolo Way from Mushin-Ikotun Road has been cordoned off for road rehabilitation at Aiye junction.

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So, to scale through the logjam en route international corridor, commuters on the axis are at the mercy of commercial motorcyclists.

Residents described the development as an embarrassment to the government, especially the State government that has outlawed okada from major roads in the State.
Between two evils

A recent visit to the cordoned bridge showed a flurry of activities at its peak. The Guardian observed that there are over 100 commercial motor bikes ferrying passengers to and fro the cordoned bridge.

At just N100 or N200, a commuter can ply the bridge from Toyota to 7&8 bus stop. Or pay between N1000 and N1500 to go the whole hog of the stretch, and straight into the international airport terminal.

“It is the only shortcut to the Airport Road these days,” a traveller said. “The alternative is a merry-go-round to Anthony or Bolade-Oshodi and the crazy traffic down there. Doing that once cost me over two hours of travel-time and a missed flight. But with okada just at the foot of Toyota Bus Stop, you can fly a bike and make it to the airport area in less than 10 minutes.”

A haulage truck driver, Wasiu Oladele, regretted the prolonged closure of the service bridge. The average travel-time from Coconut in Apapa to the Cargo terminal of the International airport has increased from two to about four hours.

“Because, instead of a direct link up at Apakun, we now have to drive down and make a turn at Anthony or Gbagada loop, paying tolls to touts at almost every junction.

“It is painful that our so-called leaders don’t value us or have regard for human lives. Otherwise, no one would just shut down a public road like that. Yes, it was an accident that caused the closure. But should the repair take forever? How long does it take to build a modern road or new bridge? If a governor or government cannot speedily see to basic things like this, why are they in office? I think everything in this country is so designed to frustrate the people. It is a shame,” Oladele said.

It will be recalled that the bridge was closed on January 7 following a diesel tanker explosion right under the bridge.

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Lagos State Commissioner for Transportation, Frederic Oladeinde, had told motorists to make use of alternative routes pending the outcome of the tests and reopening of the bridge.

According to him, motorists from Mile 2 to Cele on Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, approaching Iyana-Isolo through Daleko Bridge, will need to make use of Aiye and Osolo way to Asa Afariogun through 7&8 to access International Airport Road.

“Motorists from Toyota will make use of the service lanes by Armed Forces Resettlement Centre to BOC Gases on old NAFDAC Headquarters, through a U-turn at Cappa on Agege Motor Road to Bolade/ Oyetayo Street (Oshodi-Isolo Local Govt Secretariat) through Bolade on Apapa-Oshodi Expressway via Charity in order to reach International Airport Road,” he said.

He added that motorists from Bus Terminal 2 Transport Interchange inwards Charity on Apapa -Oshodi Expressway can connect International Airport Road from Toyota through Anthony Oke to Ikorodu Road on the service lanes and return via Anthony Oke inwards Oshodi Oke to Charity and connect International Airport Road.

“The LASG is assuring the motoring public that the Airport Bridge shall be opened for use as soon as the tests or requisite intervention makes it safe and secure to do so,” he said.

But the alternative routes have been closed this week, while the bridge itself has been abandoned, unrepaired and with no opening date yet.

Complete chaos, lawlessness
Without viable alternatives, motorists are plying against traffic on the Apakun loop linking 7&8 and Charity Bus Stop. Men of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) had been busy apprehending private vehicles, but completely handicapped before commercial vehicles, security escorts and all law offenders at nightfall.

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Sports Utility Vehicle driver, Sunday Okodo, recently tipped a policeman over a bridge along the International Airport Road, while trying to evade LASTMA arrest for driving against traffic.

A Civil Engineer, Jude Eze, said the delay was not unconnected with the partition between Federal and State roads, and whose responsibility it is to fix it.

Eze noted that though the bridge in question belongs to the Federal Government, it is more in service of Lagos residents than anyone else.

“So, one would have thought that a proactive Lagos State government would have attended to the repairs for the sake of the residents and have the infrastructure reopened as soon as possible. But we rarely see such levels of empathy and responsibility in governance.

“In all honesty, the public deserves better leadership. Let us hope we don’t have to wait till next year and another budget cycle before the Federal Government fixes the bridge,” Eze said.

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