•Again, articulated vehicles lock down Apapa, Amuwo, Kirikiri Town
A man in his 40s stood perplexed by the driver’s side of his sports utility vehicle (SUV) at about 4pm at Second Rainbow Bus Stop, along the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, yesterday. The obviously overwhelmed man had been stuck in a traffic jam for about three hours.
The motorist yawned, shook his head and lazily walked into a makeshift provision shop nearby to get something to cool off, abandoning his vehicle in the traffic. His SUV was tucked in-between trucks and other articulated vehicles that had taken over the stretch of the road on that particular Tuesday June 11.
The perennial gridlock that usually starts from Second Rainbow inwards Apapa and Kirikiri axes appears to have assumed a frightening dimension since the past week. The unending frustration for motorists and commuters at the Mile 2 axis of the ever-busy Oshodi-Apapa expressway has been further compounded by the increasing number of trailers parking indiscriminately on the road.
It is another nightmare for motorists and commuters plying the Mile Two to Berger Yard, Coconut, Mazamaza and Kirikiri axes. Those coming from the Alakija axis to Mile 2 are not left out in the ugly development. As a result of the traffic congestion, going and coming out of the areas has become nearly impossible. It is a journey that is dreaded by all, especially those who have tasted the very horrible side of the traffic.
Since the beginning of the week, Old Ojo Road, Alahum Osumba, Ifebanjo, Comfort Oboh and most of the adjoining streets within Kirirkiri Town have been in total chaos. Tankers queuing up to access tank farms and trucks going to terminals to offload or pick up goods in the industrial area as well as those heading to Apapa have totally locked the down the area. Some of the vehicles have developed faults on the road, and they are abandoned right there. Some others drivers leave their trucks at wherever pleases them to the peril of other road users.
The people of the communities have remained hapless, year in, year out, as their pleas to the authorities to find a lasting solution to the gridlock is yet to be answered. The Lagos State Government and the military had waded into the disturbing situation at different times, pleading and issuing threats, but the traffic snarl still stares at all in the face and gets messier by the day.
It is not an exaggeration to say that the heavy traffic has unleashed untold hardship on the people living and working at the affected areas. Unquantifiable man-hours have been sacrificed on a journey that shouldn’t last more than five minutes. Many commuters have to spend as much as nine hours getting to their homes or places of work while others have to abandon their vehicles and continue the journey on board commercial motorcycles.
The areas are highly industrialised but there have been a consistent sharp decline in the level of commercial activities in Apapa and its environs, no thanks to the traffic. The roads are often jam-packed both day and night with trucks carrying long, short, empty and fully loaded containers. Commuters are sometimes trapped in the traffic for nine hours. And as they disembark from commercial buses to continue their journeys on foot, it seemingly makes car owners stuck in the heavy traffic to become envious of the pedestrians.
The traffic situation usually forces most port workers, traders, including journalists working with The Sun and Vanguard newspapers in the Kirikiri axis as well as other road users to trek long distances. Even those leaving the Kirikiri area and Apapa Wharf to Oshodi after close of work spend several hours at a spot even as late as 2am on a journey that ought to last less than 20 minutes.
worker at a mattress production company on Happy Home Avenue in the area, Mr. Ayo I., told the reporter: “It is very sad that the same problem has been on for years and the authorities are unable to take a firm decision to resolve it. Most of the time, disorderliness and indiscipline on the part of the trailer drivers is the cause of the problem. When the roads were bad, we blamed government for not fixing them. But the roads that were giving us problems in the area have been fixed by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode. The most annoying thing is that one cannot pinpoint the cause of the traffic.
“On many occasions, my colleagues and l have to trek from our office to Mazamaza bus stop. It is even worse when you bring your vehicle. I drove to the office on Monday, but l had to abandon the car there for two days because we have been trapped here. Our greatest headache is going and coming back from work; not necessarily the duties we discharge in the office.”
A driver with The Sun, Mr. Obi Okonkwo, lamented that he left his company’s premises at Coscharis Street in Kirikiri at 5pm on Tuesday for Oshodi but ended up returning to the office at 2am on Wednesday. According to him, the journey (to and fro) ought not to have lasted more than an hour.
He said going out and returning to the Kirikiri axis has become a tug of war for vehicle owners and other commuters. Some of the drivers could indiscriminately park their vehicles and go for other activities for hours.
“The truck drivers believe they are the rightful owners or certified users of the road in Kirikiri area and they can do whatever they like. They don’t really care because many of them use their vehicles as their homes. They bathe by the side of the vehicle when it is dark, buy food around and sleep right in the vehicles. On the expressway, they can even take over the entire service lane after dominating the main road. It is a bit better for motorists who are familiar with the road because they know what to expect and could manoeuvre their way,” Okonkwo said.
As the traffic jam persists, robbers have capitalised on it to smash vehicle windows and windscreens and dispossess innocent road users of valuables.
As the hooligans continue to feast on the situation and enjoy a field day, road users have continued to decry the insensitivity of officials of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), Nigeria Police Force (NPF) and the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), especially during morning and evening peak periods. The people complained that hardly is any representative of the agencies sighted on duty in the affected areas to ameliorate the people’s suffering.
“The harrowing experience we go through on this road daily is unfortunate. The road has become a safe haven for hoodlums who usually rob road users, with the police showing no concern, as if we are not part of the state,’ a resident of the area said.
For a commuter who simply gave her name as Obiageli, government is to be blamed for failing to curtail drivers of trailers and other articulated vehicles from parking illegally. She believes this is the major cause of the traffic on that road. In her words, except the government takes drastic action against the act, the situation would continue unabated.
Others have advised the government to provide alternative routes for trucks so as not to endanger the lives of residents, even as they also attributed the frequent collapse of different sections of the road and the recurring traffic gridlock there to the prevalence of the heavy duty trucks that ply these routes on 24 hours basis.
At the quarterly Lagos town hall meeting in April, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode had promised that his administration had taken possession of the ABAT Truck Terminal at Orile Iganmu, which he noted could conveniently accommodate 3,000 trucks.