BLESSING WITH SORROW: LAGOSIANS GROAN IN TRAFFIC GRIDLOCK CAUSED BY MILE 2 ROAD CONSTRUCTION
Naturally they ought be rejoicing, that soon the road will be fixed. But the truth is that Lagosians who pass through Mile 2 area of the city are not finding things rosy. It is a bad story for them.
Daily, for hours unending, they groan and grill in traffic gridlock caused by road construction activities on the four roads, which meet at Mile 2. A passage which ordinarily will not take more than five minutes to accomplish now takes up between three and five hours.
According to Daily Sun investigation, commuters – passengers, commercial bus drivers and motorcycle aka okada riders and ever mobile Lagosians and visitors are daily held up on the alley usually left for them by the contractors Messer Julius Berger Nigeria Plc. The roads are blocked with heavy road construction equipment, their workers and construction material. On the Oshodi end, potholes and remains of plundered road leave commuters dazed and distressed as traffic is forced to move at a pace far slower that the speed of snail.
Daily Sun went to town to speak with those who have been feeling the heat. Expectedly, they let off steam. Their outpouring was a clear admixture of anger, frustration protest and disillusionment. A commuter who simply identified himself as Omenka lampooned the contractors: Julius Berger Plc for being too slow and insensitive to the round- the- clock stress and anguish being inflicted on commuters daily since they began rehabilitation work particularly on the Oshodi end of the road. 'My felling on this road is simply that of pain, distress and anguish. It is often hard to believe that I spend a minimum of two to three hours daily on this Mile 2 on my way to my office in Apapa and back.
'Unfortunately, Julius Berger that is working on this road has remained very insensitive to the suffering that we face here. Judging by the way they are working here, they enjoy our suffering. They simply block the road and leave motorists coming from Badagry, Orile and Apapa with an alley. That is why people spend long harrowing hour here.
'One would have thought that they would be working at night or provide a little passage to easy commuters' burden. But they have not done that.
Once it is evening they vacate the spot and leave the expressway blocked leaving everyone to use the pothole filled service lane. Even on public holidays when they ought to be working, they abandon the place only to return to work with the rest of us on working days. And to make matter worse, they don't even make provisions to save commuters distress during the rush hours. One wonders if the company works like this in its native Germany. They should be told in clear terms that people are groaning under their activities. That is the truth!' he submitted with anger and fury in his voice.
Ayodele Dayo, a commercial bus driver, said: 'This hold up is too much. It is too bad for us. The situation is even made worse by the officials of the Lagos State Transport Authority (LASTMA), who overdo their work. If we try to manage the traffic by passing any rough path off the main road, the LASTMA men will start their trouble, arrest us and if you don't bribe them with as much as N5000 they would not release us. They don't allow us to explain neither do they listen to our explanations.
Sometimes, our vehicle develops fault in a heavy hold up, and when we push it along the road, or try to move it off the main road, the LASTMA men will arrest us and start their trouble. Please help us report them to Governor Babatunde Fashola so that he will talk to them. If we call their boss, that is even an invitation to bigger trouble, because they will toll the bus to their office and deflate the tyres. And until you bribe them with as much as N10, 000, they wont release you. We are tired of them oooo.'
Mattew Epebi, another commercial driver from Delta State, also bemoaned the heavy traffic snare. He is angry at the fact that he took him three hours to get to his garage at Mile 2 from Jakande Bus stop on Apapa Expressway, just a walking distance away. Said he: 'I am a driver plying Asaba - Lagos route. My garage is at Mile 2 there. The hold up caused by this construction work is to say the least too hard on everyone. It is so bad my brother. Imagine a situation where I had to spend three hours from Jakande Bus Stop over there before getting to this garage. The road was blocked with heavy road construction equipment and what have you. But you know we can't blame the government. They are doing a good thing for us. All the works they are doing is for our benefit. But while they are doing that, they should consider the spate of human suffering on this road. The contractor should hasten up and finish the work in good time to save all of us this distress.
It is just too frustrating. If you want to go home from any where from this Mile 2, just be assured that you will eat your dinner on the road. There were times that I got home around 12 or 1 am the next day. It is that bad. I think the contractors doing that road are just delaying the work and giving everyone unnecessary stress. Please let this madness stop.'
Another driver Wale, who plies Lagos – Onitsha road told his own story. He said: 'Governor Fashola is doing a good thing on this road construction but this one at Mile 2 is causing us untold pain. The pain we experience here is caused by the heavy traffic brought about by the activities of these e road workers. I think the traffic officers need to rise up to this challenge. They need to ensure that the commercial vehicles plying these roads, the Apapa expressway and Badagry road keep moving all the time.
That way, the traffic would be less. Unfortunately, the traffic jam we are witnessing here is even small compared to the one we experience on the Benin-Ore road. That one comes with a lot of terrible auto accidents. Just last Monday, a commercial bus whose driver decided to take one way collided with another one; everyone in the two buses, including children perished. Such incidents occur too often on that Benin-Ore road and I wonder why the Federal government has not done anything about it.'
Another commuter, who preferred to be anonymous, bemoaned the pains caused by the traffic gridlock. He said: 'My brother, the situation is terribly frustrating. Since the traffic jam started sometime ago, I now get to my home in Alagbado by 12:30 am the next day, even if I close from my office at Mile 2 by 3 pm. Apart from the commercial buses that wait to load passengers and cause traffic jam, the police men at the Mile 2 garage, also take advantage of the traffic jam to extort money from commercial drivers and add more distress to the gridlock. It is too bad. I think the state government should do something about it.'