Monday, 25th September 2023

Pools of danger on the highway

By Seye Olumide
04 May 2010   |   10:00 pm
* Motorists want FERMA to rehabilitate flooded sections of Apapa-Oshodi expresswayTWENTY-SEVEN-YEAR-OLD Tony Omeni is one of the hundreds of thousands of people who reside in the vast area between Sanya and Ijesha in Itire, Lagos Mainland.His auto spare-parts shop is also located a short distance away from Sanya Bus Stop on the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway.On Wednesday, he told The Guardian how he and his friends and fellow traders had joked about the large pool of water that had taken over stretches of the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway between Sanya and Ijesha Bus Stop, until a road crash the previous day.

He said a middle-aged man, who was driving a Toyota car, tried to avoid a truck speeding from behind, only to plunge into a spot in the pool he could not have known was so deep.

“The front part of the car was almost submerged, the axle broke on impact and the man sustained injuries.

“We had joked about the pool of water, calling it ‘River Sanya’, but after that incident, we realized it posed a great danger to motorists and their passengers.

“The road is one of the busiest in the metropolis, linking the seaports and the International Airport and a thoroughfare for hundreds of thousands each day.”

On Thursday, a worse accident happened in which another young man, identified as Tony, who was trying to cross the road, was crushed by an oncoming car.

The driver of vehicle was trying to avoid the pool and swerved so far to the right that he hit the young man who was about to cross the road.

He died on the spot.

Only on Monday, another pedestrian who was also trying to avoid the pool while crossing the road narrowly escaped being crushed by a vehicle.

Now, residents of the area as well as motorists are calling on the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) to rehabilitate the flooded sections and save the lives of Nigerians.

They point to the ongoing rehabilitation of some bad spots on Lagos highways being carried out by FERMA and pray that the agency would do the same to the stretches of highway between Ijesha and Sanya bus stops.

“It has become necessary for FERMA to do something quickly.

“The agency was able to complete the rehabilitation of the bad spots on the Ladipo side of the Five Star -Toyota service lane along Apapa-Oshodi-Expressway.

“Motorists applauded that effort, which has helped in no small measure to ease traffic and reduce the number of accidents.

FERMA can do the same between Sanya and Ijesha,” Bode Odebumi, a businessman, said on Friday.

Residents of the area agree that the accidents, many of which are unreported, would not be so frequent if the pool had not been there.

They say the road crashes occur because drivers and pedestrians eager to avoid the pool, take risks that end in accidents and death.

According to Odebumi, who lives in the area:

“The pool of water is responsible for the mishaps.

“Whenever it rains, the entire stretch of road from Sanya to Ijesha would be flooded, forcing motorists onto the service lane.”

A driver, Yemi Adepegba, while narrating his experience to The Guardian, yesterday, said he was lucky he did not suffer injuries last week at about 8.00p.m. when he was driving from Mile Two to Oshodi.

According to him, “The road was free from Mile Two and I was driving at top speed, when suddenly I ran into the pool.

“I swerved and my car crashed into one of the heaps of tyre and planks people place on the road to enable them cross the water.

“I was afraid and when I came out, I was standing ankle-deep in water on the expressway”.

Another resident, James Adebayo said:

“The problem of the pool on the road did not start this year and many people have been knocked down by onrushing cars and trucks while crossing the expressway and at the same time avoiding the pool”.

But that is not the only problem as a commercial bus driver, Sunday Alaba, who plies Oshodi – Mile Two route said the pool is also sometimes responsible for the traffic jam in the area.

“On some days, especially when the volume of traffic is heavy, motorists slow down because of the long pool and a traffic jam begins.

It is not safe to drive fast so we slow down and a hold-up starts.”

Another pedestrian who ran across the road close to the pool yesterday, told The Guardian that it was not as if people were not willing to use the pedestrian bridge.

“The distance between the footbridges at Sanya and Ijesha Bus Stops is too far so people are forced to run across the road.

“Ordinarily, if the pool of water is not there, many people would be cautious. However, motorists try to avoid the water because they do not know what is inside as well as pedestrians.”

As to what caused the pool, Odebumi said a major drainage channel might have been blocked by silt and sand.

“There are heaps of sand on the road median from Sanya to Ijesha which are being washed away into the drainage channels.

When the drains are blocked, run-off is not evacuated but rather collects as pool on the road surface.

“Another reason is that the road slopes inwards, allowing for the water to collect into a pool since the holes through which it would have flowed away are blocked” adding that the situation would persist until all the channels designed for water passage along the corridor are de-silted.

“Unless this is done, the pools will remain and eventually, lead to the collapse of those parts of the highway between Sanya and Ijesha.”

Another resident of the area, Clara Nweme also called on government to take decisive action on the illegal activities of pushcart operators whom she said throw waste indiscriminately into open drains and by so doing, block free-flow of run-off.

An official of FERMA, who did not disclose his name, said yesterday the agency was aware of the danger posed to motorists by the pools of water and had made plans to solve the problem.

He said, there was “an ongoing rehabilitation of the entire Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, which so far has covered parts of Five Star to Toyota Bus Stops and was at present moving towards the airport from Seven and Eight Bus Stops.

“I can assure you something will be done soon,” he said.

Reacting to the issue of pushcarts and refuse dumps inside the pigeonholes, Managing Director Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA), Mr. Ola Oresanya said the state government’s ban on pushcarts was still in force.

He said the agency had done everything necessary to capture the volume of refuse within that axis and that the situation could not be blamed on refuse blocking the pigeon hole, saying: ” The appropriate agency should look into what might be obstructing free flow of water”.