Last Sunday was a foretaste of the agony millions of Lagosians who daily ply the Lagos-Abeokuta expressway would endure for the next six months. The congestion on the long stretch of the busy highway was the ripple effect of the blocked Pen Cinema interchange at Agege, due to the construction of the Agege-Pen Cinema flyover.
On a day traffic goes on recess and Lagos roads are devoid of the usual weekday bustle, motorists endured helplessly many hours of lockdown, wondering what would be their fate when the nation’s capital city comes alive from the yuletide lull from Monday.
And the city came alive yesterday as schools and many offices resumed from the Yuletide break. Many commuters were stranded at various bus stops on the highway as commercial vehicles were trapped in gridlock.
While announcing the commencement of the project last week, the state government had said the construction of the flyover when completed will help decongest traffic across Iju Road, Old Abeokuta Road and Oba Ogunji Street, as well as bring development to the axis.
What residents and affected road users did not expect was the untold hardship in quantum measure that would accompany the construction. Governor Akinwumi Ambode had visited the site last week ahead of the partial closure to sensitise residents on their cooperation, promising that the flyover would be ready in 10 months.
But on Sunday, day 4 of a possible 180 days of road closure on a busy artery of the state, abuses, hisses and lamentations were on the lips of the Lagosians trapped on the road. The construction is just starting, but the opening days have left many exasperated and resigned. Mr. Kunmi Akinosun said yesterday: “This traffic pain is becoming unbearable. The entire Agege and environs down to Bolade in Oshodi is a nightmare. Closing up Pen Cinema without opening alternative roads is the most senseless idea ever.
“We complained of the hardship experienced before Christmas due to the fuel scarcity, but this present one is unthinkable. Already, bus fare from Iyana Ipaja to Oshodi has gone up from the normal N100 or N200 during fuel scarcity to N500. And to think we will endure this for the next six months is killing. They said this is partial closure, what would then happen when the entire stretch is fully blocked,” he lamented.
Another motorist, Dele Afuwape, said he is yet to recover from Sunday’s traffic. “Please always remember those plying the Lagos-Abeokuta expressway, especially those in the Agege axis. The congestion can drive anyone crazy and this is what we will cope with for 10 months.”
Oshadare Olumayowa while thanking the governor for the project, said the advertised alternative routes are not capable of absorbing the diversion of traffic. “The alternative routes are not ready, they are at best street roads and this has added more pressure on the only available route. The traffic has been unbearable since yesterday. We are still coping with the traffic between Oshodi and Iyana Ipaja due to the various construction work going on there.”
Before the flyover construction started, motorists plying the Lagos-Abeokuta expressway are still bearing the pains of gridlock caused by the ongoing Oshodi-Abule Egba Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lane construction.Road users experience traffic congestion on various portions during peak periods from Sango, Iyana Ipaja, Egbeda and other areas as they merge onto the highway, while the expressway has been reduced from five to two lanes.
Between Abule-Egba and Iyana Ipaja, the gridlock gets chaotic as vehicles from Sango, Ijaye and others heading toward Oshodi struggle to enter the narrowed lanes. Also, the congestion becomes confounded around the Alimosho Road as traffic from Egbeda, Dopemu, Ikotun, Ijegun and other areas struggle to enter the highway.
A civil servant, Mrs. Tade Olukoya, told newsmen that she spent hours on the road because of the gridlock and blamed the state government for poor planning. “We know the government is working for our good but they should consider the stress we go through and plan better. They should create alternatives for us, the whole of this area is locked down because the government wants to construct many roads at the same time. They should have carried out an environmental impact assessment, which would have foreseen all the hiccups,” she said.
However, Mr. Tomi Olarenwaju, a businessman said the hardship was the price to pay for development. “The BRT lane when completed would eliminate traffic on this expressway, same for the flyover in Agege, I think we need to be a bit patient,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) has said as part of measures to mitigate the effect of the closure of the roads, reduce travel time, eliminate traffic-induced stress and insecurity in the area, the number of traffic officers have been beefed up, while materials and operational vehicles have also been deployed to Agege area.
In addition, a 24-hour Special Intervention and Rapid Response Unit have been created to mitigate the impact of the partial closure of adjoining roads in Agege area of the state on traffic owing to the ongoing construction of Pen Cinema Flyover.LASTMA’s General Manager, Mr. Olawale Musa, assured residents and motorists that the state government was determined to ensure free flow of traffic throughout the construction of the bridge and that adequate measures had been firmed up to facilitate seamless connectivity within Agege and its environs
Credit: The Guardian