BusinessDay

Nigerians groan over worsening Lagos-Ibadan Expressway gridlock

Commuters on the ever-busy Lagos-Ibadan Expressway fumed on Monday as they wasted hours in the gridlock occasioned by the repair works on the road.

They called on the Federal Government to review the pace at which Julius Berger Nigeria Plc is executing the construction works on the Berger-Opic axis of Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.

The commuters, who are mostly public and private sector workers, businessmen and students, berated the company as they spent over six hours trying to manoeuvre the gridlock on a journey that ordinarily should take 10 minutes to 20 minutes.

The Federal Government had barely two weeks ago apologised for the hardship being faced by road users due to this construction works, saying it planned to improve on traffic management.

The apology followed a protest by the commuters and residents of the Isheri Estate community in Lagos on the hardship experienced over the gridlock on parts of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. Commuting from places like Redemption Camp, Mowe, Ibafo, Magboro, and Arepo to Lagos which should averagely take between 20 minutes and 25 minutes now takes hours.

The call for intervention came as pupils and students resumed for a new academic session. Most students going to school were still trapped in traffic by 11am.

“My health is at stake; the stress is killing. My salary is static and expenses keep going high, and worse of it, I spend most of my productive hours on the road,” a teacher in a government school in Ikeja, who lives in Magboro, lamented.

BusinessDay’s efforts to get comments from Emmanuel Isibor, the media relations officer of Julius Berger, and Moses Duku, the company’s head of media relations, were unsuccessful.

The Lagos-Ibadan Expressway is a project funded by the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PDIF). It is a 127.6-kilometre-long (79.3 mi) expressway connecting Ibadan, the capital of Oyo State, and Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city. It is also the major route to the northern, southern and eastern parts of Nigeria.

Considering the man-hours spent daily commuting on this axis, public transporters have increased fares, while commuters who are in a hurry are taking the riskier option of riding on Okadas to Berger, near Lagos.

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“The bad portion around Kara Market could have been avoided if the contractor, Julius Berger Plc, handling the Sagamu/Lagos portion of the road, had put in palliative measures by patching the bad spots before reducing the road to two lanes from its normal four lanes,” said a driver and civil servant in Lagos who simply identified himself as Taofeek.

Babatunde Fashola, minister of works and housing, last month, said at a TV programme tagged ‘Season of Completion, Commissioning and Impact,’ that the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, which has been under reconstruction for the last nine years, was expected to be finished in the last month of 2022.

“This is not the Julius Berger I know; the Julius Berger I know works at night so as not to cause pain to commuters during the day, but this one is the opposite: during the day, the work is slow and by 4 pm, they have ended work, leaving their machine on the road and causing more pain on the computers,” said an elderly woman in her late fifties who lamented the hours she spent on the road.

Jamiu Saliat, a trader who lives in Magboro and has a shop in Ketu, lamented the increase in transport fares and hours spent on the road.

“I spend nothing less than four hours going to my shop and the bus fare has also increased from N200 to N600,” Saliat said.

A bus driver who simply identified himself as Adebayo said his bus got damaged on the road while trying to escape the traffic and pass an untarred route.

“My bus became faulty on the road yesterday after spending over four hours on the road. I paid N32,000 to fix it. I spent most of my money on fuel because of the number of hours I spend on the road,” he said.

Adekunle Ajayi, who works in Victoria Island, said he usually leaves home as early as 4 am but gets to work around 10 am.

“I know I’m getting close to getting a query letter over my lateness to work but there’s nothing I can do. They haven’t even completed the one that started around Secretariat to 7Up, and they have divided the road again around OPIC,” he said.

“The reconstruction has made many of us abandon our homes to squat with friends in Lagos; for about two months now, I always leave home on Mondays only to return on Fridays,” Oluseyi Oluremi, a resident of Magboro, lamented.

The Federal Government, through the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, had said recently that it was not oblivious of the current traffic gridlock being experienced by road users around the Berger-OPIC Axis along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway as a result of the ongoing reconstruction works.

“The government feels the pains of the people, especially residents of Lagos and Ogun States who are at the receiving end of the inconveniences due to the gridlock and sincerely apologise for the inconveniences caused while at the same time promising to make necessary improvements in the traffic management system on the road in other to alleviate the sufferings of the road users.”

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