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Lagos returns to normalcy with gridlock, market reopening

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Ikorodu road on standstill yesterday.


Wednesday was Day Three into the gradual ease of the lockdown announced by President Muhammadu Buhari, but the gridlock encountered in all arteries of Lagos State was a return to the normal Lagos.

All major routes, Lagos-Abeokuta expressway, Gbagada-Oshodi-Apapa expressway, Third Mainland Bridge, Lekki Ajah expressway, Ojodu to Berger, Lagos-Badagry expressway and other inner-city routes were locked down for many hours.

Motorists from Sango Ota and Iyana Ipaja moving towards Oshodi spent hours to get to Oshodi. Even attempts to ply alternative routes were unsuccessful as the inner-city roads were also locked down.

A civil servant, Michael Ajayi, blamed the horrendous traffic on the limited time allowed to work during the gradual ease of the lockdown. “Lagos is a commercial city that almost runs on a 24-hour economy but now everyone has been constrained to the less than six hours allowed to work and we all are on the road at the same time to make the best of the limited time and return home before the curfew catches up with one at 8:00p.m.”

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Another road user, Emeka Uzor, said the staggered market days, which is Monday, Wednesday and Friday for non-food items could have compounded the traffic situation. “More people came out today than on Monday because they were still watching what would happen. So, most traders trooped out for business today. Even Aswani market, which opens only on Tuesdays was shifted to Wednesday because of the government directive.”

The state capital, Ikeja, was not spared of the logjam. It was hectic driving through Awolowo and Governor’s Roads in Alausa as checkpoints mounted by security officers to enforce the order of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu led to long rolls of cars waiting to be cleared.

This led to a spillover from the Lagos State Secretariat gate to as far as Shoprite. It also led to obstructing other road users, with some chaotic traffic along the corridor.

A motorist, Segun Johnson, wondered why the checkpoint to verify civil servant going into the secretariat would disturb other road users. “This does not show leadership on the part of the person or persons in charge. I hope they will be called to order and deploy a better strategy not to have a repeat tomorrow. This is not fair to other road users. I spent over 30 minutes to drive through for a journey that should take less than five minutes,” Johnson said.

More befuddling beyond the traffic, now a regular trademark of Lagos, was the utter abandonment in most locations for the safety guidelines and physical distancing protocols recommended by the federal and state government to flatten the curve of the coronavirus pandemic.

At the markets, bus stops, banks and commuter buses, it was a gathering of people. Even those who managed to use the facemasks were wearing it improperly as it didn’t cover the noses and mouths.

An exasperated motorist, Solomon Akinbayo, said: “The traffic in Lagos today was crazy. Lagos is fully back from the lockdown. Sadly, social and physical distancing is dead and buried. Fellow Lagosians, may your immune system not give up on you.”

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