Lekki-Ajah traffic jam ruining our lives, businesses, residents, motorists cry out
• Govt’s Must Intervene Urgently To Cut Losses
• Stakeholders Want NEPA Road Re-opened, Drainage Fixed
• Single Access Route In And Out of Badore Responsible For Congestion At Roundabout
On May 17, 2017, when the immediate past governor of Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode commissioned the 160-metre long dual carriageway bridge, (with a total length of 620 metres) along the Lekki-Ajah Expressway christened “The Jubilee Bridge,” the primary purpose of the flyover was to help eliminate the traffic jam usually experienced along that axis.
But only a few months after the commissioning, motorists, road users and residents, especially those living in Thomas, Victory, Divine and other residential estates within the area started complaining that the purpose of the multi-million naira project had already been defeated because of the relentless traffic situation.
On three occasions when The Guardian visited that axis last week, the pathetic state of the snarl had not changed.
“This ugly traffic situation is destroying our businesses and leading to serious loss of man-hours,” lamented a businessman, who owns one of the shopping plazas within the vicinity.
Taiwo Abiodun, a motorist, who resides in Badore, fears for his life saying the extreme measures that he takes in a bid to beat the traffic jam are taking a heavy toll on his health.
Under normal circumstances, transiting between Ajah and Badore should be a journey of between 25 to 40 minutes, “but because of the logjam at the roundabout, I now spend more than three, four hours. I leave my house as early as 5 am daily if I must resume work at 8 am. This is taking a heavy toll on my health.”
Abiodun’s story is like to that of Kingsley Abiam, a banker, who works at Obalende. He also has to leave home at the first cockcrow before the madness at the roundabout gets chaotic.
Abiodun and Abiam are not alone in their misery. Some investors, who thought that the Jubilee Bridge would boost economic activities around that flank and invested massively in erecting multi-million naira shopping complexes and other ventures within the neighbourhood are close to tears when narrating their plight.
According to them, the worsening traffic situation, the neglect of other necessary facilities in the area by the government after the flyover was completed had ruined their businesses and made them bankrupt.
They are therefore appealing to the Babajide Sanwo-Olu-led government to make haste in addressing the traffic situation in the area, just as they advised that this should be done after a critical assessment to make the solution permanent.
While they are skeptical that the ongoing construction of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) terminal and two pedestrian bridges on both ends of the flyover have the capacity to address the niggling traffic situation, they are also appealing to government to put other necessary measures in place to ensure that sanity returns to the area.
These stakeholders are not alone in their assertion that the construction of a BRT terminal and two pedestrian bridges would not alleviate the traffic challenge in the area. Others are more pointed in their argument that until the technical fault, which the construction company that built the flyover failed to correct was addressed, not much may come out of government’s present efforts.
An official of Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), the agency responsible for planning, implementing, regulating and franchising public transport infrastructure and operations in the state said: “When the flyover was commissioned in 2017, BRT buses were plying the axis, but they stopped after some time due to the non-provision of terminals for them to pickup and discharge passengers. Governor Sanwo-Olu approved this and you can see that work is ongoing at the terminal and the pedestrian bridges. Hopefully, Maralek Ultimate Ltd would complete the job latest by January 2020.”
Tolu Folayan, a construction expert is one of those that strongly doubt the possibility of the BRT terminal and the pedestrian bridges solving the crisis.
According to him: “A major factor aggravating the traffic situation despite the flyover is the massive population of pedestrians struggling to cross the road on both ends of the flyover from the Awoyaya axis and Ilaje. The pedestrian bridge may reduce this, but it will not take the traffic snarl away.”
He noted that something ingenious has to be done because as police and LASTMA officials busy themselves stopping vehicles to allow pedestrians to cross over, another set of pedestrians is building up almost immediately. So, “with the intermittent disruption of the free flow of traffic to create a passage for pedestrians, you can then imagine how fast the traffic will buildup. This is what we experience daily and it is costing us several hours of delay.”
He also flayed the government for pretending not to know about the spilling of commercial activities onto the expressway, as well as the menace of street urchins, which according to him is contributing to the traffic situation.
“I think all the markets situated beside the expressway should be moved back, or relocated. The governor should also take drastic measures against those allocating spaces to traders, especially the local council.”
One of the traffic managers stationed under the Jubilee Bridge, who prefers anonymity said three, instead of two pedestrian bridges would have been built to arrest the traffic situation.
“Even when the ongoing pedestrian bridges are completed, the volume of traffic congestion would only reduce, but not solved until another one is built across Ado Badore Road to stop pedestrians that are coming from the estates from crossing the road.
“There is also the need to build a lay-by at the entrance of NEPA Road, along Ado Badore for commuters to board buses. Currently, they stand along the road to board buses, and as law enforcement agents, we cannot stop people from boarding vehicles to their homes if there is no provision for them. This is coupled with the fact that NEPA Road, which ought to have been constructed has been neglected.”
He also suggested the need to discourage or stop vehicles coming from Ado-Badore from making U-turns under the flyover, saying, “as they turn, we have to stop vehicles that are moving on the expressway. This is why the government should convert the Abraham Adesanya Roundabout to a turning, with traffic light erected on it. The roundabout as it is now is too big. If this is done, we can then stop vehicles coming from Ado-Badore from making U-turns under the flyover, and direct them to cross over to the other side of the expressway, drive to Abraham Adesanya Roundabout, turn and join NEPA Road and travel to their destinations. If this was done, it would be illegal for any vehicle to make a U-turn under the flyover.”
He also stressed the need to address sand drilling activities at Ilaje, adding that lorries carrying the dredged sand occupy an entire lane, a development, which he said also constitutes an impediment to smooth flow of traffic.
Some residents of Thomas Estate, who are equally worried by the energy they dissipate while leaving or when returning to their residences, called on the state government to urgently approve the construction of NEPA Road, which was originally meant to serve as an alternative route for vehicles coming from Ajah, or Ado-Badore Road to move into the estates, or the plazas.
They claimed that several letters written to the past government on the need for it to construct NEPA Road came to naught.
According to Dolapo Asaju, a resident of Divine Estate: “Miscreants, traders and tricycle operators have taken over NEPA Road, which ordinarily should have taken care of some vehicles that are heading to Ado-Badore from the Awoyaya axis, as well as those going to the estates and the plazas. Truly, if NEPA Road had been constructed when the flyover was built, it would have taken away a lot of pressure from the expressway.”
She also flayed the government for abandoning the Nepa Road drainage saying, “this drainage has been left in this condition since 2017. Previous administration also refused to address it, but we are hoping that the present government will look into it, as doing so would be of immense help to us.”
Without mincing words, Salami Adedipe, another resident of the area blames the knotty traffic situation around the neighbourhood on the closure of NEPA Road.
Adedipe said: “This road that we are talking about is a major commercial road, which is parallel to the Jubilee Bridge (but leads to power installations, private residential estates, hospitals, a fire service station, and also connects the Kazeem Oyifo and Olayinka Atiku streets to other major investments within the Badore area. The closure of this road is the cause of the congestion experienced in the area. If the road is worked on and opened to link the Lekki-Epe Expressway, it would serve as a useful alternative to the burdened roundabout.
A community leader, Francis Okoye, said residents of the area have been burdened since the road was blocked immediately after the new bridge was opened.
“Interestingly, NEPA Road served as the only alternative route out of Ado-Badore Road when the bridge was under construction. With the situation, several estates have been shutout and forced to make use of the only access route in and out of Badore, which has led to the congestion of the roundabout.
He said with the closure of the road, traders, commercial cyclists, and tricycle operators have taken over it, and this has led to a gradual degradation of that stretch of the road, which has also now become a dumpsite, posing serious health risks in the neighbourhood. “Sadly, this is what is visible from the top of the Jubilee Bridge. An eyesore, most unbefitting of an infrastructure like the Jubilee Bridge.”
Furthermore, stakeholders are beginning to express concerns that if adequate and necessary proactive measures are not put in place before the completion of the ongoing construction of Lekki Free Trade Zone and the Dangote Refinery in Ibeju Lekki, the present situation would surely become worse.
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