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Wild Wild Way! At Apapa-Mile2-Oshodi Expressway

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2ND RAINBOW

When tanker drivers change the rules… PHOTO: CHARLES OKOLO

THE importance of the Apapa-Mile2-Oshodi Expressway to Lagos State does not require emphasis. The stretch, which connects the nation’s major seaport in Apapa and the ever-busy Murtala Muhammed International Airport, is crucial to the country’s economy. For years, the road was in a terrible shape, causing vehicular traffic and fatal automobile accidents.

Besides its failed sections, reckless drivers of heavy-duty trucks conveying containers from the wharf worsened condition on the road. Most hit by the ugly experience were commuters who waste precious man-hours coming from the Festac Town, Badagry Expressway and Apapa axis. Today, anyone conversant with the route would agree that the road has been improved upon greatly, especially from Apapa to Cele Bus Stop. Thanks to the Federal Government intervention.

Besides, the construction firm, which handled the rehabilitation, did a good job, especially with the provision of drainage system and walkways. As a result, motorists can easily link Festac Town and the Amuwo Odofin axis, through Ijesha Bus Stop, First Rainbow and Second Rainbow Bus Stops. It is not yet hurray, however, as heavy traffic has returned to the road. And if nothing is done urgently, things could really fall apart on the Apapa-Mile2-Oshodi Expressway.

Tanker drivers who park indiscriminately have turned the road into a lawless zone. From the Apapa axis to Mile2, and sometimes to Ijesha Bus Stop, these reckless species have taken over the entire service lane. In fact, they are gradually encroaching on the expressway unchallenged, causing heavy vehicular traffic on a daily basis.

Ordinarily, driving from Cele Bus Stop to Mile2 takes not more than five minutes. Unfortunately, however, the same journey now takes hours. And if it rains, it becomes almost an everlasting journey. “When we saw the improvement on the road, we were happy that normalcy would return. I live in Festac but I work in Ikeja.

This means that I ply this road everyday. These tanker drivers are making life difficult for us. I no longer take my car to work. I don’t know why government allowed these boys to be this reckless.

On a daily basis, I spend hours going to work; it is the same on my way back. Really, this thing is getting out of hand,” lamented Ikem Ojegwo. Tayo Adekoya thinks the situation took a turn for the worst during the 2015 electioneerings, with authorities allegedly turning a blind eye to impunity in order to garner votes.

“The level of policing in the area went down and things spiraled out of control. You know, the politicians needed votes. The elections are over now; they should find a way to tame these guys,” he said. As a result of the traffic situation, commercial bus drivers, otherwise known as danfo, now run one-way to Mile2, from Cele Bus Stop.

They pick passengers around Conoil filling station at Cele, and then connect the other side of the expressway, using the newly constructed Cele flyover, from where they head, against the flow of traffic to Mile2. Most times, this happens under the watching eyes of men of the Nigerian Police and LASTMA officials.

“Some people have lost their lives as a result of what these danfo drivers are doing here; people get knocked down every time. I remember a young man, who sold things at Ijesha warehouse; he was killed here.

The deceased helped his in-law move goods to the other side of the road. But as he returned, a danfo driver, going one-way, crushed him to death,” said Uche Nwafor, a trader at the warehouse.

The incident, according to him, led to a violent protest by the traders and vandalisation of commercial vehicles. “It was hell on that day. Some of the drivers were beaten black and blue, while a lot of buses were damaged. But after a while, the traffic violation resumed. You can see for yourself that nobody now disturbs them; it has become the norm. It’s only God that is protecting us here,”

Nwafor said. Meanwhile, for months, now, work seems to have stopped on the Cele axis of the expressway, with contractors no longer on site. So, from Cele Bus Stop to Iyana Itire, Ilasamaja, up till Iyana Isolo Bus Stop (on both sides of the expressway), it’s still a sad tale of potholes.

Already, the service lane from Iyana Isolo to Ilasamaja Bus Stop has been taken over by trailers, forcing vehicles heading towards Iyana Isolo to use the expressway.

Further down on that road, towards Champion Newspapers, are towing van operators, who have carved a portion of the service lane for themselves. Ilasa traders also display their wares on that lane. “This thing started…since Dangote opened their yard here; we’ve never rested. They started with one lane, but today, they have practically taken over the entire road,” said a commuter.


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