By GABRIEL DIKE
An overnight downpour flooded parts of Lagos metropolis on Thursday, causing devastating gridlocks on major roads. Commuters and motorists plying the ever-busy Oshodi-Apapa Expressway saw hell as they were trapped in a gridlock for over five hours due to the early morning rain that resulted in the flooding of the highway. At Satellite Town, hundreds of residents were forced to abandon their houses when such homes were overrun by flood.
Several commuters were stranded at the various bus stops even as commercial buses hiked their fares by over 300 per cent. A trip from Oshodi to Mile 2 went for between N300 and N400 while Cele to Mile 2 that hitherto costs N50 went up to N150. Buses plying the Apapa-Oshodi route charged N350. Commuters who left home early to their offices and business places were caught in traffic.
The heavy flood on both sides of the expressway led to a long traffic that stretched from Cele to Mile 2. The gridlock was compounded as scores of cars and other small vehicles packed up in the flood, making it difficult for others to drive through. Many that tried ended up in the flood, thus compounding the situation.
Cart pushers and street urchins, otherwise called area boys, made brisk business in the flood, as they charged between N2000 to N3000 to assist motorists in pushing out vehicles that had broken down in the flood. A driver, Innocent Adumekwe, told our correspondent that he paid N2, 500 to the area boys to push his car from the flood. He said the engine suddenly went off and refused to start again. He later discovered that water had gone inside the brain box of the car.
Several clearing and forwarding agents heading to the port to handle jobs for their clients were also affected by the flood. Mr. Sule Adekunle told our reporter that he was to meet a client at the port by 9.00am but regretted that the flood had made it impossible. He said his bus was still trapped in traffic at Jakande Estate as at 10.45am.
A teacher heading to her school, Mrs. Kikilomo Oludare, said she was held up in the traffic for over three hours and wondered why the federal government abandoned the second phase of the rehabilitation job on the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway given to the construction giants, Julius Berger.
She disclosed that her husband who was driving her to her school was held up somewhere around Coker Bus Stop. She said she was forced to pick a motorbike from there, saying she picked N250 to Mile 2 because her boss had been calling her on the phone since 8.30am.
A car dealer, Mr. Livinus Ezeobi, said before his Mile 2 experience, he had gone through a horrifying one at Bucknor, after Jakande Estate. According to him, his car got stuck inside the pool of water. He showed our reporter the damaged interior of his car and the brain box already soaked by the flood, regretting that it would cost a huge amount to replace. A commercial bus driver on charter, Mr. Sikiru Adisa, also told our correspondent from inside his trapped Danfo bus that he was heading to Ijanikin with his passengers when he ran into the flood.
He regretted that he had been trapped inside the flood for the past four hours. He was worried that the fuel in his bus was almost gone. Following the downpour and the attendant flooding, commuters had a difficult time getting to their destinations. The situation was worsened by the scarcity of fuel in many parts of the metropolis. For those who had enough cash, commercial motorbikes came to the rescue. Many that could not afford the exorbitant fares of the okada riders waited and struggled for the few available buses on the road.