Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway gridlock worsens
•As businesses decry low patronage
Motorists and commuters around the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway, especially the Oshodi to Iyana-Ipaja axis have continued to struggle in pain and distress as the traffic gridlock on the route worsens.The tortuous experience is due to the ongoing construction of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lane, and pedestrian bridges by the Lagos state government.
The project was projected for completion this month, but the current structure on ground showed that the target is not realisable. Worried by this situation, the Governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode, had recently given as express order for the contractors to speed up the pace of work on the project to enable him commission the proect before the end of his tenure by May next year.
Although, residents within the route lauded the project as a welcome development when completed, nevertheless, they want the contractors handling the job to expedite pace of execution.
Motorists on the route expreience terrible traffic situation as they travel for about three hours on the road for a journey of about 30 minutes. Mondays and Fridays are exceptionally notorious for congestion on the route. Many commuters have to make plans for extra hours on the road before embarking on a journey.
To worsen the situation, the contractors work even during the peak period for them to meet the Governor’s mandate. While on duty, they usually block a large section of the road with their heavy equipment, thereby restricting the road users to one narrow lane.
Businesses along the route have suffered significantly, as the construction works make it difficult for clients to maneuver and find parking space when coming for business activities.
The commuters also expressed concerns over the reduction of the expressway from five to two lanes, a situation they said has worsened the gridlock on the axis, and the consequent loss of man hours. Vehicles making detours at the slightest opportunity created by the contractors further compound the situation.
Emmanuel Emeasoba, had planned to catch a flight on a Monday morning, but his hope was dashed as the snail movement of vehicles on the road from Abule Egba to Ikeja stalled his chances of meeting up an appointment in Abuja recently. Emeasoba who described the traffic on the route as tortuous and excruciating!, added that Lagosians have not had it this rough with bad roads in recent times.
A business owner at Cement Bus Stop, Ken Okire, said: “The construction work started last year, and the government promised that before December the road will be completed, but the contractor that started the job was incompetent because what they were doing was just loading and offloading.
“Now, the new contractor on ground came and destroyed what the former contractor had done. If the current contractor was the one that started this road, the work would have been completed by now.“This whole thing affects our business because there is no space for our clients to park, and any time they park around, they face embarrassment from government officials and get their vehicles towed.”
According to him, the dust that emanate from the construction site is not helping matters. “If you are an asthma patient, I don’t think you can withstand it.” Okire expressed worry that contractors always block the road when they start work at any portion of the road.
“The road is not wide enough to accomodate enough traffic, and when you block a portion, that causes traffic jam and people suffer. Last week Friday, people were stuck in the traffic jam till around 1am,” he said.A commuter, Hakeem Ahmed, decried the slow progress in the construction. He blamed the traffic gridlock on the on inefficiency of traffic law enforcement agencies on the road.
Ahmed urged the state government to look into the matter with immediate intervention.When completed, the 14-kilometre road from Oshodi to Abule-Egba, BRT corridor will move over 450,000 passengers daily. With future increase in the number of buses, this figure is expected to increase. The BRT corridor on that route will have a special median lane. The two lanes would use a common platform to load. There would be 14 pedestrian bridges in all proposed 14 bus stations.
The footbridges would take the passengers into the bus shelters and across the highway using special buses with doors to the left to make it possible for the buses to share common platforms at the bus stops.The engineering designs would take care of the beams of bridges. For instance, the road will be expanded around pillars of existing bridges, around bus shelters with passing lanes to accommodate traffic, and future expansion of the expressway was possible.
Despite the construction of the BRT routes, the width of the road will remain standard. A standard road is 3.1 or 3.2 metres wide. The road will only appear insufficient due to the careless way we drive in Nigeria. That notwithstanding, it is still part of the plan to widen the road in areas where there is need to.