Motorists groan as Lagos airport link bridge closure lingers
Since the closure of the link bridge connecting Oshodi-Apapa Expressway to Murtala Muhammed International Airport, over six weeks ago, motorists have faced daunting task commuting along the route. BENJAMIN ALADE writes.
It’s nearly two months since the closure of bridge linking Oshodi-Apapa Expressway to the Murtala Mohammed International Airport Road. The Lagos State government had on January 10, 2021 announced closure of the bridge following a fire accident after a diesel-laden tanker burst in an explosion, affecting the bridge pillars.
Since the bridge was closed to vehicular traffic, commuters and motorists using alternative routes announced by the government have had more stress added to their normal routine.
The Guardian investigation revealed that motorists have had to defy government’s directive on alternative routes due to deplorable state of the roads. In the process, those who insist on plying one-way have had brushes with law enforcement agencies. In one encounter, a traffic manager was thrown off the bridge when a motorist attempted to roll back after he had been trapped.
Lagos State Commissioner for Transportation, Dr. Frederic Oladeinde, had earlier outlined alternative routes pending the outcome of integrity tests on the bridge. The tests have since been done.
Driving through the alternative routes could be daily torture because of usual traffic snarl, potholes and poor traffic management.
For motorists linking Osolo Way through Daleko, they may not have much hassle on a good day, except for regular traffic snarl at Osolo Way junction. But once they link Osolo Way, the mixture of potholes/ craters on the road, slow down vehicular movement, a situation, which is compounded by the high volume of trucks plying the routes.
Consequently, a trip that should ordinarily not take more than five minutes could last for an hour at peak hours.
The second alternative route is not better either. Except on rare occasions, the trip from Toyota Bus Stop to BOC Gases is swift, but from that point on, there is often heavy traffic caused by unruly commercial bus drivers, who pick up passengers indiscriminately, or have converted part of the road to a garage. This scenario is the same up to Terminal 1 of the Oshodi Interchange, where a long stretch of potholes slows traffic to the point where vehicles take a U-turn to connect Bolade Bus Stop. Also, a stretch of up to 300 metres of the service lane to the Terminal 1 is also being used as a garage by buses.
To connect Bolade is also not an easy task for motorists, as commercial buses indiscriminately pick passengers along the route leading to slow and chaotic vehicular traffic movement.
The alternative is to connect the Airport Road using one-way from the Charity Bus Stop end, daring the consequences. Commercial bus drivers do this in convoys, but once a passenger vehicle tries his luck, LASTMA officers lay in wait to make a kill. Many motorists have been fleeced of huge sums on daily basis. Sometimes, LASTMA men pack themselves into commercial buses to lure unsuspecting passenger vehicles. Half way up the bridge, they disembark to arrest such motorists.
A tricycle operator, Henry Chukwueze, said bad roads make him visit the mechanic workshop every other day, making him spend so much on maintenance from the little he makes from fares.
Another road user, Nathaniel Onyeka, said a woman had suffered a miscarriage due to the ‘gullies’ on the road, and pleaded with the government to help fill the potholes to reduce the agony road users go through, especially now that the airport link bridge remains shut.
Another commuter, Mrs. Abimbola Johnson, wants government to urgently repair the bridge to spare road users the stress they presently face.
A staff of a food processing company said going home at close of work has become problematic because of the closure of the bridge.
According to her, since vehicles heading to Airport Road no longer go through Toyota Bus Stop, she now has to board Oshodi-bound buses. And at Oshodi, she boards another bus to Airport Road.
“This means, I am now paying twice the transport fare that should take me home. So, the Federal Government should help those of us that are using the bridge, by repairing it as quickly as possible. If it is done early enough, it would remove the burden of additional transport fare on us.”
A commercial bus driver, Emeka Nnamdi, said using the alternative route takes a heavy toll on his running cost, as it takes longer to get to the garage along Airport Road, which means more fuel is consumed, but without a fare rise.
“This notwithstanding, the owner of the bus still expects me to make the same daily returns, despite the extra time and fuel incurred in this extended trip,” Nnamdi said.
The Federal Controller of Works, Lagos State, Popoola Kayode, said the result of the integrity test conducted on the bridge shows that it is bad hence the closure.
He lamented that the procurement process to fix the bridge is taking rather long, asking motorists to show understanding.
No comments yet