He dreamt of a 10-lane Lagos-Badagry Expressway that would rank among the best in the continent has turned into a nightmare for motorists and commuters. It is arguable if any other major road in the federation has an intractable traffic logjam that has, for quite a long time, infested the highway. The reasons are not far to seek.
They include primarily, the fact that there is hardly a decent 100-metre stretch of the Mile Two-Badagry Expressway, Lagos without potholes and craters of different sizes. The heavy rains too, have only worsened the situation and not helped by drivers who do all manner of things, such as driving against the traffic and stopping wherever they choose for passengers to alight or enter the vehicle.
From Maza Maza, through to Agboju, Alicia, Satellite Town, Ojo Cantonment, Okokomaiko, Afromedia, Vesper, Ijanikin, Torikoh, Oko Afo, Apata and further down to Badagry, the road has deteriorated to such a sorry, bringing much hardship to road users and residents. With the rains compounding the problem, the road is now so bad that only trucks with bigger axles and tyres risk the flooded potholes and craters.
“If we are lucky, we make it, if not we are trapped”, a truck driver told The Guardian yesterday, as he emerged from a particularly deep pool at Fin Niger Bus Stop. What he did not need to say was that if the truck is trapped, it blocks traffic and an agonizing gridlock starts and lasts till when ever the obstruction is removed. “And that is the painful circle we go through on this road,” another motorist, Chidi Adindu, who was trapped in the traffic heading towards Mile Two, told The Guardian. “The bad portions of the road slow down traffic, which is now much slower because of the rains.
“When a car or bus or truck is trapped in the pot holes or drivers loose their heads and do things such as driving against the traffic in an attempt to escape the gridlock, things become much worse. “Movement grinds to a halt and sometimes, that could last for as long as three, four or five hours. “ It is so bad that on really bad days like last week Thursday, I spent four hours between Ojo Cantonment and Alaba Market, which should not take more than 15 minutes. “That is the burden we bear on this road.”
A resident of Satellite Town, Kenny Osaretin, who was also trapped in the traffic yesterday told The Guardian: “When the Lagos State government began the multi-lane carriageway, we were happy. “We knew it would be of great benefit to this axis, but the snag is that the government failed to create an alternative route.” “ Sometimes, I open my shops around 11.00a.m. instead of 8.00a.m. and get home late in the night. “When you open late, you do not make much sales and that is a big problem.
“The government should do something about the traffic by telling the contractors to create alternative routes to reduce the suffering, which is becoming unbearable.” Another unpleasant consequence of the gridlock caused by bad road and compounded by flood is that armed robbers now prey on motorists and their passengers. “Last Friday, a couple was robbed of everything they had by three armed robbers who forced open the door of their car as they waited in the traffic. “On Monday, a man was stabbed on his right shoulder as he struggled with hoodlums who wanted to take the briefcase he kept on the front-passenger seat of his car.
“The robberies are too many and happen just everyday,” Osaretin said. The route once famed as a vibrant economic link between Nigeria and the rest of the West Coast is now notorious as probably the worst road throughout the federation, and now a major hindrance. Workers at ABC Transport Company which operates scheduled services along the West Coast complain that their buses waste as many as five or six hours along the Nigerian section of the West African highway. They say that with the rains making things so much more difficult, they may consider options, including possible suspension or cutback in operations until the road improves.
“ The cost is rising, especially to maintain our fleet because of the terrible state of the road and we are not increasing fares, which is not very favourable to us,”,one of the staff of the company told The Guardian yesterday. It was not possible to get anyone at the field office of the construction company at Maza Maza to say, if indeed, there were any measures being contemplated to ease the plight of Lagosians who use the road.