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Gridlock on Ikorodu-Mile 12 road generates pain, anger

•Commuters urge Lagos State govt to repair damaged portion

By Kehinde Aderemi

Lagos is synonymous with gridlocks.  From the Island to the Mainland, Ikeja through Ikorodu to Oshodi and Sango, no part is spared. People languish in traffic for hours on end. This is one of the perennial challenges visitors and residents of the metropolis are left to contend with year in, year out.

To beat the traffic on the roads, most times, residents are compelled to leave their homes much earlier than the usual time they are wont to. Some hit the roads as early as 4am. They want to go past some identified problem spots before the traffic begins to build up and becomes chaotic.

On several occasions, the traffic radio comes handy. It remains the favourite medium through which most people get information about what is happening on the road they are about to access. They prefer to get first-hand information about the traffic situation so as to avoid the trouble that traffic might pose.

Ask those living in Ikorodu, they dare not venture out unless they receive assurance that the Lagos road is clear. It is the only artery out of Ikorodu town, and it is one out of the many roads in the Lagos metropolis that is always in the iron grip of gridlocks. This phenomenon is no respecter of anyone, big or small, rich or poor. It is everyone’s tormentor-in-chief. Once it mounts, it leaves everyone traumatised. It simply locks down the road and paralyses everything and everyone.

According to Daily Sun’s investigation, the Itowolo and Ketu stretch of the Ikorodu-Lagos road is the worst affected place. Sometimes, stranded vehicles stretch far beyond the area and even extend to Ketu and Ojota. Movement on the road is turned into a nightmare. Oftentimes, for more than five hours, many on the road are rooted to the same spot. If there is any movement, it is at a snail’s pace, with the resultant loss of man hours. Anytime this happens, hope and help hardly arrive until after a long time. Everyone is left on their own, seething with pain and anger.

Recently, many regulars on the Lagos Road suffered one of their biggest nightmares. It was a day in Lagos like no other. All commuters headed for Lagos from Ikorodu were stranded as the road was completely locked down. It was a simply a no-go area for everyone.

“It is a pity that we have been abandoned to suffer like this,” lamented Wale Adebesin, a businessman, as he sat beside the road in anguish.

“Look at the long hours we have wasted here. I left home at nearly 6am this morning believing that I would get to the Island to open for business. Now, it is past 10am and we are yet to go past Mile 12. Look at the long hours we have wasted. This is becoming a daily occurrence.

“The problem is the bad portion of the road between Mile 12 and Ketu. This is terrible.”

Adebesin went on to share his recent sad experience with the reporter, recalling how he spent nearly an entire day between Ikorodu and Mile 12.

“It was on the Monday, following the recently concluded local government elections in Lagos State. I had left Ikorodu a few minutes to seven o’clock in the morning, but couldn’t get beyond Ketu until 1:45pm.”

Adebesin was not the lone sufferer on the said day. Many residents of Ikorodu who experienced the hardship of that day have been complaining loudly about what they went through. They are unhappy that no solution came their way until the miraculous happened.

“Those of us who live in Ikorodu are suffering. Before you set out, you have to get necessary information about the traffic situation so that you don’t get trapped in the traffic. This is the major challenge we face now. We are at the mercy of this problem. Those failed portions at places between Mile 12 and Ketu are our nemesis. We spend lengthy hours there; our pains are untold.

“Lagos State government should help us fix that portion of the road. We have been facing this problem since the rains started. The continuous downpour, actually, is increasingly exposing the shabby job done by the contractor even as we are all now victims of government’s failure to act,” another Ikorodu resident said.

The overall health and the economic implications of residents staying long hours in the traffic should not be ignored, noted Mrs. Adeniran, a trader who has a shop on Lagos Island. She blamed the Lagos State government for commuters’ woes.

She observed that “apart from the bad situation of the road, it is sad that the Ikorodu-Lagos road remains the only access to all other parts of the state. For us in Ikorodu, there is no alternative.

“At the moment, the Sagamu Road is so terrible; the Ijebu-Ode Road is also not good. So, we have no choice than to continue to use the Lagos Road. Whenever the traffic builds, the road is deadlocked, there would be no exit,” she said.

“Ordinarily, no one would spend up to 30 minutes commuting between Ikorodu and Ketu. But these days, we spend over five hours on that track. This is too bad; it is a sad commentary for all of us.

“Imagine those hours we waste daily on that road; it is ridiculous for government to look the other way while we are suffering,” another commuter who caved anonymity lamented.

However, Mr. Taofik Afolabi, a journalist, blamed some road users for the problem. He said, most times, residents of communities along the road abandoned the pedestrian bridge built for them and prefer to run across the road, thereby causing avoidable traffic.

He noted that some residents of Ketu prefer to cross the road a street level rather than use the Ketu footbridge, even when there were obvious dangers associated with their action, most people were just fond of crossing the expressway, often carrying heavy loads on their heads.

He contended that in an ideal society, people used pedestrian bridge when and where necessary. This, according to him, was to ensure safety and decorum on the road, especially on busy roads like the Lagos Road linking Ikorodu and Mile 12. But Nigerians’ behaviour was at variance with what happens in other parts of the world.

“People flout the law at will, especially the traffic laws, even at the risk of their lives. There is a law that guarantees the safety of road users; the use of the pedestrian bridge is a safety measure that is very necessary,” he added.

At the moment, the opinion of many is for the damaged portions of the road to be fixed in order to reduce the suffering of the commuters. Some contend that the short-term remedy done on the facility cannot help.

“In this rainy season, the sand filling of the road is just a temporary measure; with the downpour, the sand would be eroded by the floods,” Adekunle, a commercial bus driver, said. He urged government to solve the problem associated with long traffic on the road once and for all, so that many using it would heave a sigh of relief.

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