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Motorists lament closure of Airport link bridge

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Commercial buses picking passengers at the U-turn before Bolade Bus Stop in Oshodi, Lagos. PHOTO: GBENGA SALAU

Twenty-four days after the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway/Muritala Muhammed International Airport Road link bridge was closed to vehicular traffic, commuters and motorists using the alternative routes announced by government are reeling in pains.

The bridge was closed as a result of a fire incident, which happened along Apapa-Oshodi Expressway after a tanker loaded with 33, 000 litres of diesel exploded upon colliding with another truck.

Shortly after the incident, the Lagos State government announced indefinite closure of the bridge, which part of it was reasonably affected.

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The state Commissioner for Transportation, Dr. Frederic Oladeinde, while announcing alternative routes for motorists pending the outcome of the integrity test carried out on the structure, said motorists from Mile 2 to Cele on Oshodi-Apapa Expressway approaching Iyana Isolo, could go through the Daleko Bridge and access Aiye and Osolo Way to Asa Afariogun, through 7&8 Bus Stop to eventually access International Airport Road.

Oladeinde added that motorists from Toyota should make use of the service lanes by the Armed Forces Resettlement Centre to BOC Gases on old NAFDAC Headquarters, through a U-turn at Cappa on Agege Motor Road to Bolade/ Oyetayo Street, through Bolade on Apapa-Oshodi Expressway via Charity to link the International Airport Road.

But driving through the alternative routes is a horrible experience caused by a combination of slow traffic (as a result of potholes, increased traffic) and poor traffic management.

When he made the announcement, the commissioner had informed that officials of Lagos State Traffic Management Agency (LASTMA) would be deployed to the corridors to control, and manage traffic flow along the axis within the period.

For motorists using the first alternative route, linking Osolo Way through Daleko Bridge is with little hassles on a lucky day, except for regular traffic snarl at Osolo Way junction. But once they link Osolo Way, the mixture of potholes/ craters on the road, slows down vehicular movement, a situation, which is compounded by the high volume of vehicles plying the routes.

Consequently, a trip that ordinarily should not take more than five minutes could last for an hour during peak periods.

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The second alternative route is not better either. Except on rare occasions, the trip from Toyota Bus Stop to BOC Gases is swift, but from that point on, there is often slow traffic caused by unruly commercial bus drivers, who are indiscriminately picking up passengers, or have converted part of the road to a garage. This scenario is the same up to Terminal 1 of the Oshodi Interchange, where a long stretch of potholes slows traffic to the point where vehicles are taking a U-turn to connect Bolade Bus Stop. Also, a stretch of up to 300 metres of the service lane to the Terminal 1 is also being used as garage by buses.

To connect Bolade is also not easy task for motorists, as commercial buses indiscriminately pick passengers along the route leading to slow and chaotic vehicular traffic movement.

Pothole-ridden alternative route. PHOTO: GBENGA SALAU

Even though there is a U-Turn just before the BRT Bus Stop, opposite Arena Shopping Complex, commercial buses have equally turned the U-Turn to a motor park, where passengers alight and board buses. This makes negotiating a U-turn at the point difficult.

Interestingly, contrary to government’s promise, on both alternative routes, traffic officers just sit, or huddle in some locations without paying attention to traffic management for the two days (last Thursday, Friday) that the routes were monitored.

However, on Osolo Way, and 7 and 8 Bus Stop, the officials did their best to manage traffic and ensure free vehicular movement.

A motorist, Mr. Segun Ajayi pleaded with the state government to hasten the re-opening of the bridge, by doing the needful as quickly as possible, so as to end the unnecessary stress that road users are subjected to.

He complained that things would have been different had the traffic officers posted to these routes taken their assignments seriously.

While Ajayi appealed to the state government to fill the potholes to facilitate smooth movement, Mrs. Abimbola Johnson, equally laments that it has not been easy connecting the Airport Road since the bridge was closed because of the deplorable state of sections of the alternative routes.

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“The poor state of the alternative routes is aggravated by the ongoing construction work on the service lane of the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, that is, inward Mile 2. This means that all vehicles that should have connected the Airport Road, through the service lane inward Mile 2, after using the Isolo Flyover, either go to Oshodi, Anthony, or use Osolo Way, which seems to be the preferred choice of most commercial buses, including long buses, that now ply Osolo Way. This increased vehicular movement on Osolo Way contributes heavily to the slow traffic witnessed on the route presently,” she said.

Johnson, who pointed that Osolo Way, which is already a busy road, is now busier with the volume of vehicles diverted to the way, added that this has increased the plight of motorists and commuters on the road.

She, therefore, called on the government to ensure urgent repairs of the bridge in order to spare road users of the trauma that they presently face.

A staff member of a food processing company situated around the Toyota Bus Stop area of the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, who pleaded anonymity, said going home at close of work has become problematic for him because of the closure of the bridge.

According to her, since vehicles heading to Airport Road no longer go through Toyota Bus Stop, she now has to board Oshodi-bound buses. And at Oshodi, she boards another bus to Airport Road.

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“This means, I am now paying twice the transport fare that should take me home. So, the Federal Government should help those of us that are using the bridge, by repairing the bridge as fast as possible. If it is done early enough, it would remove the burden of additional transport fare on us.”

A commercial bus driver, Emeka Nnamdi, said using the alternative route takes a heavy toll on his running cost, as it takes longer to get to the garage along Airport Road, which means more fuel is consumed, but without a fare rise.

“This notwithstanding, the owner of the bus still expects me to make the same daily returns, despite the extra time and fuel incurred in this extended trip,” Nnamdi said.

The Federal Controller of Works, Lagos State, Mr. Popoola Kayode, said the result of the integrity test conducted on the bridge shows that it is bad hence its continuous closure.

“The procurement process for its repair is on-going so that the emergency repair can be undertaken. The pillars are badly damaged. The Federal Government procurement process takes time, but that notwithstanding, this case will be treated as an emergency case. Also, it is not part of this year’s budget, so funds must be sourced, because the procurement law says fund must be available before any contract is given out. The process is on, very soon work will start, but I cannot tell you the definite time, because I am not the one to approve it.”

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