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Poor traffic management at construction sites compounds gridlock

By Gbenga Salau
02 October 2022   |   4:25 am
Many often reject an opportunity to work and live in Lagos State principally because of its chaotic traffic gridlock. And this is because the state has become synonymous with traffic snarl over the years.

A temporary outlet recently created by China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC) at the Second Rainbow flank of the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway to ease maneuvering by CCECC heavy-duty trucks has now become a hindrance to free flow of traffic. Other motorists now make use of the temporary opening, but for a fee collected by touts. This scenario has created traffic snarl inward and outward Mile 2.

Many often reject an opportunity to work and live in Lagos State principally because of its chaotic traffic gridlock. And this is because the state has become synonymous with traffic snarl over the years.

While the state government usually says it is working round the clock to tackle traffic congestion, it seems there is no respite insight as hectic traffic persists in the state.

This is in spite of the setting up of a traffic management agency, Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), and various taskforces with the goal of checking traffic jam across the city-state.
One way the government is also working to resolve the perennial traffic situation in the state is the construction of good linking roads and bridges. But the construction works, which are now in almost every part of the city, are compounding the traffic snarl, mainly due to poor traffic management around and within the corridor of construction sites.
For instance, two construction works along the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway are at present being executed by China Civil and Engineering Construction Company (CCECC) and Hitech. While CCECC is operating around Second Rainbow Bus Stop, Hitech is working around the Mile 2 corridor.

As a result of the poor traffic management around the construction sites, many commuters and motorists are daily having harrowing experience navigating through Second Rainbow inward and outward Oshodi.

For instance, the opening created by the CCECC for construction vehicles to move easily across both lanes of the expressway at Second Rainbow are being used by non-construction vehicles, including commercial buses. Due to this, free flow of traffic in that axis is being obstructed leading to traffic snarl that flows backward to Coker Bus Stop, inward Mile 2 and to Fagbem; inward Oshodi.

The temporary exit point created at Second Rainbow is a shortcut to many drivers and an opportunity to bypass the slow traffic at the Mile 2 end of the expressway. So, vehicles coming from Jakande Estate and Apple Junction while trying to navigate through the outlet often block other road users heading to Mile 2. This is in addition to commercial buses perpetually waiting within and by the passage to pick passengers. Also, some other commercial vehicles that have moved out of the outlet or coming from Mile 2 obstruct free flow of traffic by staying on the road within the same outlet to pick passengers.

This is aside tricycle operators or mini buses that are also jostling for passengers within a section of the road that has become narrower for road users as a result of the ongoing construction of the two fast lanes of the expressway. Yet, most times, there are no dedicated traffic officers enforcing orderliness or controlling traffic.

The best LASTMA officers and some Policemen often do is to station a bus at first Rainbow or Sanya bus stops waiting to arrest motorists who as a result of chaotic traffic sometimes make a U-turn to drive through the alternative route in Coker or Ijesha.

It is almost the same scenario in Mile 2, where because of the ongoing construction work by Hitech, the fast lanes have been closed to vehicular movement. And rather than the traffic management agency ensures that the service land inward Apapa was free from every impediment, LASTMA officers often failed to prevent articulated vehicles from taking over a column of the two columns on the service lane. Sometimes, these trucks still take over the second column. With this scenario, there is usually an hectic traffic that, at times, flows to second Rainbow.
At Mile 2, inward Oshodi, commercial vehicles are stationed on a section of the service lane picking passengers, which hampers traffic flow, especially for vehicles climbing the flyover bridge.   

Another example is the reconstruction of the burnt Apongbon section of Eko Bridge, which is inflicting pains on residents, but the pain is being compounded because of poor traffic management. While traffic officers were visible at the bypass at Eko Bridge linking Apongbon Street, they were nowhere in sight on the alternative routes. They were also not in sight at Carter Bridge, Idumota, and Ereko Street. Where they were available, they did little or nothing to ease the traffic gridlock.  
Even though Idumota Roundabout and Ereko Street are not closed to vehicular traffic, accessing Ereko Street, through Carter Bridge en route to Marina/CMS remains a herculean task.
On Eko Bridge, petty traders and commercial bus drivers jointly run riot there, preventing free flow of traffic. A larger portion of the road has been converted into a trading arena and parking lots for passengers to alight or board the buses. And there are long queue of vehicles parked, mostly commercial buses, waiting to pick commuters.  
No doubt, the hectic traffic on Eko Bridge would have been reduced, if the connecting Apongbon Street was in a good state. But there were multiple potholes clustered in the middle of the street. As a result of the deplorable state of the road, motorists were forced to make a U-turn after descending from the bridge to link Apongbon Road, instead of driving straight to link Apongbon Street en route to Leventis/UBA Roundabout. 

Also, during the reconstruction of the fast lane of Cele-Oshodi section of the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway inward Oshodi, despite the attendant chaotic traffic due to the construction work, traffic officers were not on ground to control traffic. If any, they were emergency traffic officers that got held up in traffic, and left the scene immediately their vehicle was cleared off the traffic. Yet, three towing vans managed by traffic personnel claiming to be working for Mushin Local Council, but who will not help to control traffic, indiscriminately tow vehicles parked on layby, where there are no sign instructing motorists not to park.
Likewise, before the completion of the reconstruction of a section of Mile 2 on the Orile-Badagry Expressway, there were about six intercepts; traffic officers were usually only available in one of the points. As a result, chaotic traffic became permanent feature on that corridor for the period the construction lasted. The then General Manager of LASTMA was alerted about these lapses, but there was no change till the road construction was completed.
Also, the Ikeja Express Bus Stop on the Lagos-Abeokuta Road is another spot where heavy construction is going on, but impediments like multiple potholes and the narrower space often obstruct traffic. And for weeks, the potholes were not be fixed; yet traffic officers were daily resuming at the spot to control traffic.
The irony is that at the beginning of a construction work, the state Ministry of Transportation usually issues a statement on the traffic management plan, but it merely ends there, as nothing is, most times, done to ease traffic on the corridor and its alternatives. This is because there are often no traffic officers controlling traffic in many instances, neither are the impediments removed or worked on.

A resident, Babatunde Johnson, said the state government and its agencies are really not managing traffic. It is ironical that they concentrate on enforcement rather than traffic management that is the primary duty.

Johnson said there was need to audit the staff and work schedule of LASTMA officers across the state, because looking at the way traffic management is done in the state, it seems the officers are not fully abreast of their duties and responsibility. He further said that there is also need to re-orientate the officers from the head of the agency to the least officials that their primary duty is traffic management.

Bimpe Adeola noted that Police and traffic officials are not helping matters, because they often fail to do their work, resorting instead to extorting harassed motorists, especially private car owners and worsening the traffic situation in the process, because they overlook commercial bus drivers driving against traffic or obstructing traffic.

On his part, Tajudeen Ogunlade said that the construction companies do not care just like the traffic management agencies. “I have passed through many construction sites and nobody is controlling traffic. If you see any of the staff of the construction company or security personnel on the construction site controlling traffic, it was just for construction vehicles to have a passage. After that, nobody cares, motorists are left to their pains.”