It was a tale of woe for motorists and commuters on all roads to both Apapa and Lagos Island Wednesday as trailers and tankers blocked all available spaces in their desperation to get into the port city either to lift fuel or carry imported cargo.
It was such that motorists were held back beyond Alaka, immediately after the National Stadium in Surulere, Costain, Funso Williams Street and other adjoining roads from Oyingbo and Yaba.
The motorists who were on their way to work, mostly to the Island, were left to their fate unsure what to do next as none of the road wardens, especially the police and officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) was anywhere around the affected the areas.
On the flip side however, all the areas that usually pose difficult driving experience for motorists on their way to the Island, especially the blocked Eko Bridge, were free and those who took alternative routes such as Ajegunle through Boundary to Mobil Road, had no difficulty connecting to Eko Bridge through Ijora Causeway to the Island.
Most affected by the early morning chaos were motorists from Surulere area and residents of Apapa who were left with the option of either staying back at home or going all the way to the Third Mainland Bridge to connect to the various offices on the Island.
“I saw it as early as 6am from google map traffic directory which I check before setting out every morning. I quickly hit the road to Third Mainland Bridge,” said Hafiz who lives in Surulere, but works on the Island, adding, “it is a long journey, but I prefer going that long way to getting stuck at a place.”
Another motorist, Chinwendu, who also lives in Surulere but works in Ikoyi, told this reporter that he left his house by 8am but as at 12.40pm, he was still at the Ijora Causeway, lamenting that the traffic situation was everything but interesting.
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“I don’t know when I am going to reach my office today; the traffic stretches back to Alaka so it is not even easy even if I decide to go back and work from home,” Chikwendu lamented.
As for Apapa residents, nothing could be more frustrating as many of them could not leave their house because, according to them, “coming into Apapa or going out is a Big NO for now; don’t bother trying.”
“Something is happening; trailers have blocked the Mobil exit and traffic is backing up. No police or LASTMA in sight. Traffic has backed up to Funso Williams exit. The only way is one way. Lots of people are stranded; assistance before things get really out of hand,” one of the residents fumed.
Ayo Vaughan, chairman of the Apapa GRA resident association, said that there was nothing wrong with the government closing the road in order to carry our repair and rehabilitation work but, according to him, those involved did not do a thorough homework.
Vaughan, who spoke to this reporter on phone, noted that there was no proper traffic management by the contractors, adding that all these were happening because those involved were not resident in Apapa.
“They have to repair the roads; there is nothing wrong with that. In short, it is a god thing to do. But there are proper ways of doing it. The timing for this one is poor; there was no consultation with the stakeholders to make inputs as per how to control and manage traffic. There was no thorough work done,” Vaughan said.
A trader at Idumota who came to the Island in the same vehicle with this reporter was furious, wondering why both the federal and Lagos state governments choose to look away while citizens who are legitimate tax payers struggle to get their offices and shops on daily basis.
“Is it too much job for Lagos government to join hands with the federal government and get these repair works on the bridges done and open the blocked sections of the bridges which have made commuting to the island a mini-hell”?
“Why is it that, all of a sudden, controlling the movement of these trucks have become too difficult with the much-hyped technology called Eto App or the call up system”? the trader who did not want his name mentioned, added.
Apapa traffic, which eased off in the last few months, has got worse with the closure of the Mobil Road junction by the federal government for emergency repair work on the Apapa-Ijora Bridge.
Though a good outing by the government, road users lament that no proper traffic management strategies are put in place each time government has need to close that bridge which, in the last seven years, has seen seven closures with the attendant pain they inflict on motorists.