Highway To Hell

Highway To Hell

The Lagos-Badagry-Seme Expressway has over the years deteriorated and has today become a shameful example of what such an important highway should not be.

The disturbing state of the road has become a sore spot for both commuters and motorists who groan every time they are forced to use the route.

For the ‘uninitiated’, a trip through the highway is a journey through hell and the result is usually a headache, backache or pains all over the body.

This Federal Government road would test the will of any private vehicle owner, while most of the rickety commuter buses that ply the route are gradually shaken to piece by the endless pothole that dot the once well-kept highway.

Taofeek Subair, a commercial bus driver said driving is his only means of livelihood and he regularly plies the route from Iyana Iba to Mile 2. Narrating his ordeal, he said the road has put his health in serious danger. According to him, those of them plying that route on a daily basis are doing so at a great risk to their health and even lives. The many potholes that often cause serious traffic jam on the road are enough to deter even the most reckless of drivers. Considering the nature of his job, that involves sitting for hours in traffic jam, the driver experiences serious pains, especially in the lower back. He confessed that sometimes it affects his sexual life. But he expressed gratitude to his bus conductor, who has taken to massaging his driver, at the end of every work day, as part of his daily routine.

Another commuter, Olaitan Makinde, a pregnant woman, expressed disgust over the way the road was abandoned. She commutes on a daily basis along the Lagos-Badagry highway to her office. She described her experience to be synonymous with that of an inexperienced dancer who dances off beat to the rhythm of the bus as it swings across the bad roads. Though the mother-to-be was happy that her family had just relocated to their personal house in Igando, in Alimosho, Lagos, she is saddened by what the road has become. Many times during those rough journeys to and from her office, she is always afraid she will fall into labour. She, however, consoled herself with the fact that she is not in the first trimester during which there is a higher risk of losing the pregnancy. Though she knows her expected date of delivery, she always carries cash, her hospital card and her medical history record in case she falls into labour prematurely.

The situation of the highway is so bad that commercial bus drivers and private car owners complain bitterly. They all spend huge amounts of money on vehicle maintenance, which tells much on family budgets and other essential needs. Even the high fares that commuters are charged, especially at peak periods, such as in the early morning, on rainy days and after work, compound the people’s headache.

They say, one man’s meat is another man’s poisonl; hoodlums in the vicinity feast on the deplorable condition of the roads, devouring passers-by as prey. They have taken the sad condition of the road as an opportunity to make brisk business for their daily meals. The touts often hang around, hoping for the vehicle of the unfortunate motorists to get stuck in a ditch so that can ‘assist’ them to push out the vehicles and charge whatever amount they consider as reasonable for their service.

The bad road causes so much traffic jam that sometimes people are stuck as late as 2 a.m. The traffic jam is more pronounced where the biggest potholes exist, especially at major bus stops likeVolkswagen, opposite Dangote, Abule Ado, Agboju-U-Turn, Mazamaza and Abule Osun.

These areas often attract pick pockets and bag snatchers during traffic snarls. Hoodlums seize the opportunity to harass motorists, snatch their phones, necklaces and other valuables. Many have been traumatised by such attacks and become apprehensive whenever they get where they had been attacked. This category of criminals operate frequently on a daily basis but become more daring during the end of the month when they beleive they could have their share of the pudding from passers-by who may have collected their salaries.

Before the ban, when the situation became unbearable, commuters usually opted for commercial motorcycles popularly called Okada. But whenever it rained heavily, even the brave okada rider finds it difficult to manoeuvre through the flooded potholes at several points, making the journey a dangerous and sometimes very dirty venture. The situation is now worse because commuters can no longer take okada due to the recent restriction on their activities on major highways in Lagos. These days commuters are often stranded at bus stops almost everyday, and during rush hours, some people resort to trekking, sweating to cover the distance to their various destinations.

Some of the commuters said they considered walking long distances as punishment rather than an exercise, because they are sweaty and dirty by the time they get to their various destinations.

However, out of frustration and long hours in traffic jam associated with the road, many motorists seek alternative routes to get to their destinations.

Rashidi Adepegba explained his tactics to beat traffic: "Due to the situation of the road, from my route, Iyana Iba to Mile 2, any time I manage to get to Alakija, I usually take another route from Alakija; I divert to Old Ojo Road at Agboju to emerge at a link road that leads to Mazamaza bus stop."

Henry Chikezie, a commercial bus driver, called on the Federal Government to see to the permanent repair of the road.

"Most of our leaders and people in government do not ply this type of bad road. They would rather take private jets and airplanes to their various assignments and events. “They do not really feel the pulse of the people because they have salaries and allowances that take care of their movement and make them comfortable. “Most of their declarations and promises should be felt by the masses now. They should avoid neglect and procrastination, because we must all enjoy the dividends of democracy. Our leaders must spring into action to repair the bad roads all over the country," he said.

Speaking on the situation of the roads, Alhaja Mariam, the Information Officer of Otto Awori Council Development Area, lamented the deplorable situation of the road, which has made driving on the axis a nightmare for motorists.

"This is a federal road, but not withstanding, the council having noted and received several complaints from users, had gone straight to work filling up some of these deadly potholes to make for a reasonable smooth drive and reduce traffic jams. The LCDA has promised to always put in its best in terms of rehabilitation, while also calling on other government agencies to join hands in providing social amenities for its citizens."

Many motorists are often seen driving against trafic. Officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA, often find the situation beyond control and often watch helplessly as motorists flout the law due to the condition of the road.

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