Motorists protest enforcement of temporary one-way rule along Apapa-Oshodi Expressway
It was an agonising moment for commuters traversing Oshodi to Mile-Two in Lagos yesterday as commercial motorists mounted a roadblock along the expressway in protest against erection of a one-way sign by the Federal Government.
Many road users had to treked long distances as the protest lasted, while others rode on prohibited commercial motorcycles to their destinations.
The one-way signage was erected on Monday morning allegedly without prior information, and many motorists lamented what they termed high-handedness of Lagos Task Force officials, who were enforcing compliance on the service lane between Five-Star and Toyota Bus Stops inward Apapa.
According to a passer-by, the one-way signage was not erected last week, but people just discovered it on Monday when the task force started arresting vehicles.
A mechanic, who spoke in confidence, said: “They just erected this sign yesterday. The lane started from Ilasa and it has always been two-way traffic, but now, they say it is one-way.”
He further stated that since the sign was erected, operatives of the task force had been apprehending vehicles without proper warning and they had arrested almost 20 vehicles.
One of the victims, who gave his name as Ojo, said: “The service lane leading to Airport Road from Emzor Road is now one-way and the task force arrested me and demanded I pay N15,000 to bail myself.”
A bus driver named Tunde, said: “I have been plying this road from Cele to Oshodi for years and it has always been two-way. The government has refused to repair the road and we have been managing this route for over a year and they have blocked it. We do not have any other route to ply again.” He alleged that members of the task force unit seized his vehicle and asked him to pay N30,000.
Since the closure of Murtala Airport Road link bridge for repairs at Toyota Bus Stop, motorists plying the Mile-Two, Airport Road have devised other means, including connecting to the Airport Road through the Iyana Isolo bridge and descending to connect to the service lane on Aswani Road or Apakun bridge.
Drivers plying the Ikotun-Oshodi road are also caught in the web of the new decision as it was the only way to connect to Oshodi, except they drive through the Isolo bridge to connect to Apapa-Oshodi expressway.
The protest yesterday caused blockade of the expressway by drivers with some of them bearing placards. It took the intervention Divisional Police Officer (DPO), Aswani Police Station, SP Adeleke Ojajuni, to manage the crisis.
Expectedly, commuters bore the brunt as drivers plying the Oshodi-Apapa route, utlised the situation to increase the transportation fare by 100 per cent.
For instance, transport fare from Oshodi to Toyota increased from N100 to N200. A driver, Andrew Okosun, said: “We were told the other side of the road was the alternative route. We climbed the Isolo bridge and link to the other side of the road when we are coming from Mile Two, only for us to see a signboard on the Aswani Junction forcing the junction to Toyota Bus Stop into one-way, by then, it means no alternative is created for us and that’s why we are calling on the government to help us and create another route.
“It is difficult going through Aswani on Tuesday, which is the market day. LASTMA, Police and area boys had arrested more than 50 vehicles by Monday.
The chairman, Ilasa-Airport Road Drivers’ Association, Tunde Ajape, said: “The police are now using touts to harass us. They unleashed touts on us and they drag us to police who will now pounce on us and we pay between N25,000 and N50,000 to bail our vehicles. The government should talk to them to give us breathing space and allow us to work freely as long as we don’t pass through one-way routes.
But Aswani DPO accused the drivers of creating chaos and dragging other drivers to join in the protest.
“I got a call this morning about the protest and I immediately ran down here. They converged on the road without a leader and removed some barricades on the road. They must do everything in order and their leaders can come to the station to identify their members who were arrested to have them released.”
Ojajuni insisted it was the decision of the Federal Government to stop the drivers to connect to the Airport Road from Apakun service lane, and not that of the police.
MEANWHILE, the Lagos State Environmental and Special Offences Unit has arrested 16 miscreants for allegedly masterminding violence and robbing of commuters in Iyana Cele and Iyana Isolo.
The miscreants, who capitalised on the peaceful protest by commercial bus drivers to unleash mayhem on commuters, were caught molesting passers-by and destroying public facilities.