It was swear words and gnashing of teeth for the stranded motorists that endured grueling hours since Tuesday on the busy Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, as articulated vehicles condoned off a section of the road from Cele bus-stop to Mile 2 inward the seaport, turning it to parking lot.
The chaotic gridlock was worsened by the impatient commercial bus drivers, who in a long convoy plied the other lane and drove against traffic. Before now, articulated vehicles often park on both lanes of the highway from the port to Mile 2 and at most Second Rainbow bus-stop. But last week, they extended their menace to Ijesha bus-stop, and by Monday, further extended their illegal parking to Cele bus-stop.
As a result, accessing the alternative routes that commuters often ply before now became difficult with the resultant ripple effect of a lockdown. When the trucks limited their activities to Mile 2, motorists often take Second Rainbow to bypass the blocked route; when it was extended to Second Rainbow, the alternative road at Coker bus-stop became the option. But when the parking extended to Cele, every alternative route became inaccessible.
Due to this, all the vehicles heading towards Mile 2, Orile, Festac, and beyond only have the Okota road as the only alternative. Since Monday, to even access the Okota road through Cele bus-stop became a huge task because those driving one-way to link Mile 2, also needed to climb the bridge at Cele. The implication was a further extension of the gridlock to Iyana-Isolo and Toyota bus-stop yesterday.
Beside having to spend long hours in traffic, commuters now pay more as commercial buses have hiked their fare from N100-N150 to N400 or N500 depending on the time of the day. A commuter, Benjamin Adesokan, said he got home at about 1:00a.m. on Tuesday having left Gbagada at 8:30p.m. He said the journey between Oshodi and Cele that should not take less than 30 minutes, took over four hours.
Another motorist said he had to park his car at home when he got the news that the situation of things had worsened. According to him, he spent about three hours just to move from Toyota to Cele on Tuesday, and when he monitored traffic reports and it wasn’t better, he decided to commute by public transport yesterday.
The situation appears to have overwhelmed policemen and officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA). The officials looked almost helpless, as the traffic seemed to defy solution. At Cele bus-stop, street urchins and miscreants took advantage of the gridlock to snatch phones and handbags from stranded motorists, while the victims watched helplessly as the robbers simply vanished from view.
According to a traffic officer at Isolo who spoke on condition of anonymity, she said the traffic was caused by tankers who parked indiscriminately on the road and have extended to Cele, forcing commuters to find other routes and causing logjam.
A commercial bus driver plying Isolo-Ikotun route who simply gave his name as Sunday, implored the state government to come to their aid. “I have only managed to go three trips since morning, the traffic is too much. In fact, it got to a point that all the passengers came down from the bus and started walking when we were stuck in one place for almost an hour. So now, I collect the fare immediately they enter to prevent the situation of passengers walking away without paying.”
Precious Ibe, a commuter said the situation was getting worse daily and is capable of shutting down Lagos. “Only God knows what will happen if this problem continues till next week when the Federal Government plans to shut down the Third Mainland Bridge for repairs.
“This problem started since Monday and nothing has been done. I walked from Oshodi to Toyota bus stop, thinking it would be better there when the conductors were charging N600 for a fare of N100/150. When I saw the crowd at Toyota, I decided to move to Isolo, there I met an even bigger crowd. There were no buses, people were stranded and I ended up walking home to Jakande. I am pleading with governor Ambode to find a solution to this problem before we all die from stress,” she said.