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Lagos motorists groan over intractable gridlock on Oshodi-Apapa Expressway

By Bertram Nwannekanma and Barbara Negbejie
06 May 2022   |   2:38 am
The groaning continued yesterday, for motorists and commuters, plying Apapa-Oshodi Expressway as they went through tough times, accessing their businesses and offices in Olodi–Apapa, Ajegunle

Commercial motorcyclists maneuvering the construction site.

The groaning continued yesterday, for motorists and commuters, plying Apapa-Oshodi Expressway as they went through tough times, accessing their businesses and offices in Olodi–Apapa, Ajegunle and environs, due to gridlock.
   
The Expressway has been experiencing traffic snarls for years, but the situation has recently taken a different turn because of reconstruction works along the axis.

    
Yesterday was not different as motorists, who were trying to manoeuvre the gridlock, compounded the situation, leaving commuters with tales of harrowing experiences.
   
Apart from the unruly behaviour of some motorists, articulated vehicles had taken over greater parts of Tin can Island, Berger- Suya, Coconut, Otto -Wharf to Mile II Oke since Wednesday, said Osinachi Andrew, a businessman.

Traffic as articulated vehicles take over a section of the road PHOTOS: BARBARA NEGBEJIE<br />

  
According to him, the traffic situation is life-threatening because of the reconstruction being carried out on the road.
 
“To get to Wharf, Olodi -Apapa and Ajegunle and its environs is a tug of war as vehicles are on standstill for hours,” he added.
  
Narrating his experience, a car dealer at Berger, Mr Chinedu Okeke, said business has been bad because of the traffic situation.
 
According to him, customers find it difficult to access his office at  Berger Suya, hence cars are just parked without sales.
  
Mr. Andrew Onuorah, who sells spare parts at Trinity Bus Stop, also complained that his customers have diverted to the Ladipo market, thereby reducing his returns.
   
A commuter,  Ugo Oragwa, said it is difficult to access Tin-can Island, where he does his freight forwarding business and when he adds to the cost of clearing containers or cars, customers find it difficult to pay.
   
For Mr. Bright Ajaegbu, who runs his business in Apapa,  the traffic situation is compounded by the pace of work on the road, stressing that the contractors are jumping to several sections without completing one.
   
He said: “ There are multiple works going at the same time, basically, this happens every other day. If you can’t get a motorcyclist,  it is a very big problem. You will be stuck in traffic not to talk about the scorching sun, dust and smoke from trucks, you will be inhaling.”
     
But commercial motorcyclists, also known as Okada riders, seemed to be the only ones who are happy with the situation as many residents patronise them despite the attendant hazard to reaching their destinations.
   
According to Mr. Musa Shehu, despite the health hazards and the harassment by the Lagos State officials, business is booming, because motorcycles are more accessible and commuters do not want to spend hours on the road.
  
Another rider, Malami Jalingo, said they are happy with the situation because they have more patronage.
   
Reacting, Lagos State Sector Commander,  Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), Mr. Olusegun Ogungbemide, said the situation at Apapa Expressway is not restricted to a particular agency as it involves diverse agencies and stakeholders.
  
According to him, it’s quite unfortunate that the issue is still lingering.
  
He said: “Recall that there was a task force that was set up under the leadership of the Vice President and they operated for a while, Presently, the management of that corridor has been handed over to Lagos State.
   
“So, it is Lagos State that has the mandate to manage the corridor now.  What we were asked to do was to supply them with manpower, which I have done. They are trying their best to keep the flame going.

The problems of that corridor are beyond vehicles being parked on the road or vehicles breaking down, it is complicated,  and until the entire issue is tackled holistically, we will continue to have this situation.

     
“Series of meetings are being held and we realised that even if you put hundreds of men on the road and the fundamental issues are not taken care of, we will continue to have these issues.
   
“The environmental issue is that many of these trucks don’t have a holding bay, because ideally, they don’t have any business being on that road.
 
“Despite the introduction of the call system, so you still see them around. When law enforcement agents pursue them, they go to another side. One wonders why they go into a business where you don’t have a holding bay,  sometimes these vehicles are parked on people’s streets.
  
On the spate of work, the engineer on site,  Mr. John Gerrard,  a staff of Hitech construction, said they were initially harassed by motorists until the intervention of military personnel on the ground.
  
He stressed that motorists are more orderly now and work is going at high speed and by October the work should be completed.
   
Also, the Federal Controller of Works Lagos, Mr. Olukayode Popoola said the construction work is being done in segments and will take time to cure because the material in use is concrete and not asphalt.
    
According to him, when a section is finished it is allowed to achieve the maximum strength (cure) and to give the desired durability which takes up to 21days before it can be opened to traffic.