Apapa: Motorists face gridlock over bridge closure

Motorists on Apapa-Ijora bridge are again going through a difficult driving experience as the Federal Government has closed the bridge at the Mobil Road junction for emergency repairs.

All cars and trucks are, therefore, to come down through marine bridge exit and Mobil Road exit. Thereafter, they will take the service lane into Apapa.

This closure, according to authorities of the government, would last for three months, bringing to seven the number of times this particular bridge has been closed to traffic in the last seven years.

Records show that the bridge was closed for six months in 2016, four months in 2017, six months in 2018, five months in 2020, and three months in 2021. In 2022, it was closed partially for three months from January 7 to April 2 for emergency repairs.

Motorists, especially residents of the port city who are always at the receiving end of these frequent closures of the bridge, have described this latest closure as “one incident too many.”

Until February 2021 when a collaborative effort by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Lagos State government introduced the Eto App (a call-up system) to control truck movement in and out of the port city, Apapa was in a deep traffic mess, making it a loathsome destination avoided by many.

But, even with that, motorists and residents had, at one time or another, been subjected to terrible driving experience as trailers and tankers, which have become an army of occupation on the bridges, become chaotic and unruly each time there is need to close the bridge for repair work.

“We need to brace up for more hard times,” Sola Giwa, a Lagos State staff member appointed to manage traffic, cautioned at the weekend, adding, “We would ensure a good driving experience as we navigate the three-month diversion.”

Giwa said that, as expected, there would be some inconveniences during this time. “Like the saying goes, you cannot make an omelet without breaking eggs. I’d rather have some traffic than a bridge collapse. Please, bear with us as the Federal Government repairs the bridge,” he pleaded.

He, however, advised that the trucks should take under the bridge and connect the service lane under the bridge to Leventis, saying that as motorists, they could not have the mayhem caused by trucks and resident/private cars, all trying to navigate one lane to Mobil Road.

At the weekend, the situation could best be described as chaotic — trucks trying to do a U-turn on Mobil Road caused a long traffic snarl while many private cars were trapped in-between trucks, unsure when to make their way into Apapa.

“That is exactly what happened a few minutes ago; you can’t imagine the traffic jam (gridlock) caused by these trailers making a U-turn there; it is an absolute nightmare indeed,” an Apapa resident lamented, suggesting that, in the interest of sanity and safety of the residents, the trucks shouldn’t be allowed to use the Mobil Road exit.

Besides the driving experience, which, for them, is a nightmare indeed, the residents are scared stiff of the security risk which the present traffic situation in their environment poses, pleading with the Lagos government official to provide security for them.

“Please, can we have security and which way should regular vehicles take; just apprehensive of having to navigate traffic on one’s own,” another resident pleaded, commending Giwa for his efforts at ensuring sanity in the area.

Yet another resident, who introduced himself simply as Elias, commended Giwa, saying, “May we ask now that there is traffic, let security be increased, especially in Ijora as we will now become targets of armed robbers who will take advantage of our immobility; please, help to put this complaint to Ijora command as most robberies occur at that end.”

To ease the hardship caused by this traffic situation, Daniel Edward, an engineer, suggested that those handling the call-up system should reduce the number of trucks per day while the repair work lasts.

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