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Transport fares spike as Lagos traffic worsens

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Traffic jam at Lagos–Abeokuta Toll gate yesterday PHOTO: AYODELE ADENIRAN

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu earlier in the week declared a state of emergency on Lagos roads, with an assurance to begin fixing multiple failed portions immediately. But while Lagosians still await the repairs, state-wide traffic has worsened with commuters feeling the pinch harder. BENJAMIN ALADE writes.

The agony of living in Lagos appears to have doubled for many residents of the State due to the deplorable state of the road network.

Except for places like Alausa, Ikoyi, and some parts of Island, the entire residents could feel the pinch of impassable roads and attendant gridlocks that no longer discriminate between day and night.

Journey times from one point to another within different parts of Lagos have remained unreliable and residents have continued to face disturbing inconveniences in transportation.

Indeed, the logjam perpetually leaves road users stranded. Many struggled to hop on any available motorbikes, popularly known as okada, some looked on dejectedly in a snail-moving traffic while others disembarked from buses after paying the fare to trek long distance.

Alimoso to Agege, Ikeja, Badagry, Isolo, Mushin, Oshodi, Surulere, Apapa, Ajah, Bariga, Epe and Ikorodu, the tales are the same. And united in pains, they called on the State government to live up to its responsibility before it is too late.

However the effect of the day-to-day gridlock has made Lagosians seek for alternatives. Some of the alternatives, which include the waterways and use of commercial motorbikes, especially with the emergence of e-hailing motorcycle operations, came as a big relief to commuters.

For those working on the island and living in Ikorodu, majority on several occasions utilised the waterways to connect the island earlier.

With its advantages such as curbing loss of economic man-hour, lateness to work, and other challenges associated with traffic, Lagosians find this initiative as an alternative to incessant traffic gridlock in the metropolis.

Besides, the gridlocks have also spikes the fare prices of some of the routes in the metropolis.

For instance, fares from Oshodi to Egbeda when there is no traffic is pegged at N200 while commuters pay N500 or more when there is traffic on the route.

Speaking with The Guardian, a resident who schools in Ogba and reside in Egbeda, Lilian Onyenucheya, described the traffic on Lagos-Abeokuta expressway as always hell.

She said: “Once we get to Cement bus stop, it is always a torment there is standstill. Even bikes are not left out.

“If I have classes for 10 a.m., I would leave home by 6:30 a.m. just to get to Ikeja, but I end up reaching Ikeja around past 9 a.m. The traffic is something else.

She said: “Even when going to Yaba, once you reach Onipanu bus stop the traffic is very slow due to the pot holes.”

Speaking on alternatives, Onyenucheya said: “I always take e-hailing motorcycle once I see I can’t get away from the traffic. And guess what these riders do. They don’t pick online order, not even flag down where they use code to book because the amount was less.

Narrating her ordeal she said: “I entered Fadeyi from Ikeja on Saturday and paid N3000, while buses were carrying N500 to Egbeda from Ikeja on Saturday.”

According to her, these days from Oshodi to Ikeja buses carry N400, which usually was N100 when there is no traffic.

Another resident in Ibafo, who works in Lagos, Yomi Fadipe, said the gridlock in Lagos has never been a good experience at all. It seems the Lagos road network is getting worse every day couple with the rain and unavoidable potholes everywhere.

Fadipe said the traffic has caused him not to have sound sleep. Recently it been a short night sleep compare to the past. To meet up with appointment time is getting difficult, you have to use bike which is of high risk and costly.

“The Lagos-Ibadan express road where I reside is not friendly at all now. The ongoing construction seems to be slow one. The traffic to and fro is bad everyday and cost of transportation is very high.

“I can’t imagine how those working is offices manage it, because 50% of people leaving around Mowe/Ibafo area have to be using bike every morning.”

He said it seems the government both State and Federal is yet to get it right in terms area of road management.

Speaking on the fares, Fadipe said from Ibafo to Berger bike is N500. When there was no traffic using bus was just N100, Bus now is N300 or more depending on how tick the traffic is.

For Ifeanyi Victor, the Oshodi-Apapa expressway is on lockdown. “I believe it’s because of the ongoing construction works on the road. The contractors are not really putting in the much-needed speed into the work, knowing that many commuters use the road. Honestly, that route is becoming a nightmare.

For Adenike Fagbemi, a resident in Ikorodu, plying Ikorodu road through to the Mainland and Island for the past weeks has been Hell full.

Fagbemi said: “Aside the heavy traffic on the roads, the roads are extremely bad and not in good conditions, this has taken a toll on my health as I experience consistency fatigue which isn’t normal before now. As a matter of fact because for over a week now, I am forced to drop my car at home and patronise the mobile bikes.

“Having to go down to the Island for meetings and not been on time is one thing I detest, hence, I am compelled to take bikes through it all. At least, I get to my destination on time with so much anxiety if what the risk may entail. Bikes are not safe but in a case whereby one needs to meet a deadline, I am left with no choice.”

She said the cost of maintaining that standard is another battle. “I get home every evening with pains all over my body.”

“Sincerely, I have seldom thought about relocation. Sincerely, it’s sad when one has to go through this on a daily basis to survive.

“In the middle of these whole issues, Lagosians have become more paranoid and hostile. Do I blame them, when one keeps experiencing fewer busses and queues at bus stops and BRT Terminals, get to work late or an appointment late because of traffic and bad road would the fellow be productive for that day or week? No!

“On days when I drive, I have had to spend three hours on the road from Ikorodu to the Island. Ketu/Mile12 is a mess. These days, I change route and take Alapere, which saves me 20 to 30minutes,” she added.

Senior Director of Operations, ORide, Ridwan Olalere, said the impact of motorbikes on Lagos traffic has been shortening travel time on the road with users getting to their destination on time and increase productivity within their businesses.

Speaking on the impact of the gridlock on its business, Olalere said: “Our daily active users have significantly increased as well as our daily number of requests because of its affordability and ubiquity, Lagosians can quickly request a trip with the riders arriving at the pick-up point with little wait-time.

“Some car owners tell us they prefer riding with ORide than getting stuck in travel which in turn is reducing the number of cars on the road.”

According to him since its launch in May 2019, Opay’s mobility service ORide has provided an easy and affordable alternative to moving around Lagos.

The Dean, School of Transport, Lagos State University (LASU), Prof. Samuel Odewumi, said there is no doubt that the traffic situation in Lagos has become nightmarish. This is confirmed by the declaration of state of emergency by the governor last this week.

Odewumi said the immediate causes are the bad state of the roads, the rains, the motorists’ indiscipline and the occupation of the roads by traders that convert parts of the roads and bus stops to shops.

For the bad roads the solution according to him is what the Governor has done backed up with concrete execution programme of action. Road maintenance is a continuous activity not an ad hoc, episodic political stunt.

He said the terrible neglect of road maintenance towards the end of Ambode reign has left a huge burden for Sanwo-Olu. It’s is compounded by the fact that it coincided with the heavy rains period and the fact that the new government is just settling down and still scratching its heads and lean pockets with its newly constituted cabinet.

Speaking on remedy measures, the university don said the repair gang should be multiplied, with adequate men and materials to work day and indeed mostly at night, if there is going to be any noticeable impact.

He added that the quality of the palliatives should be stepped up to make it more durable or else they will just be repairing in circles. As for the rains, clear the drains.

For driver’s indiscipline, he urged the state government to empower the LASTMA to arrest the offenders.

“Ambode took this power from them for a reason but it’s now time for a more strict enforcement. We cannot be appealing for people not to drive against traffic: enforce the law.

“On the market on the roads, the government has given an ultimatum, let the government follow this through with enforcement. Most of the major gridlocks are accentuated by the traders with their stands on the bus stops and junction,” he said.


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