Following the persistent difficulty being encountered accessing Apapa (one of the business hubs of the nation, housing the country’s seaports and other businesses) by road, particularly in recent times, Lagosians are resorting to risk measures to do so. One of such is the patronage of canoe operators who now acquiesce to desperate passengers to overload the wooden objects.
For those living and working in Apapa, the past few weeks have been very tasking. Some days within the period, commuters have had to sit in gridlock for upward of six or seven hours before getting to their offices. By the time they got there, they had been exhausted. There were especially bad days when such commuters also had to endure another long hours while leaving office.
The major access roads leading to and from Apapa have turned into death traps in the recent times as a result of negligence.
There’s no easy way, either for those moving from the Costain axis or those from Oshodi. Movements from the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, particularly from West Minster bus stop to Coconut bus stop, and towards Tican 1st and 2nd gates leading up to Liverpool under the bridge, is akin to walking through the valley of shadow of death. Incidences of containers of different sizes falling like pieces of paper are rampant.
Of major concern to many people is that these avoidable accidents occur routinely. Each time, men of the National Road Safety Corps (NRSC) will come only to detach and tow away the heads of trailers or tankers involved in the accident abandoning the trucks to the detriment of other road users.
Despite several meetings by stakeholders involving Federal Government, Lagos State, transporters, resident associations and several others, there seems to be no significant improvement.
However, Nigerians being dogged species that so much believe in the familiar adage that “when one road closes, another opens”, they have charted for themselves an alternative route to beat the challenge.
So in line with the aphorism, various alternatives have been discovered. For instance, for those heading to Apapa from Mile 2, Olodi-Apapa and Ajegunle, water transportation is now the best option. A good number of people within this axis either use the foot bridge located somewhere inside the Boundary market, or opt for canoes with the attendant risks.
In Lagos, when people see over-loaded commercial buses they refer to them as “Molues” (A molue is bus-like means of transport that was prominent in Lagos up till early 2000). So, because of the incessant gridlocks on Apapa roads, operators of canoes on the water ways within the area, now over-load their canoes even at the instance of the commuters.
In the days when Molues operated in Lagos, commuters used to hang on the doors, some passengers even dangled while the rickety vehicle was in motion. Today, those who patronised the canoes take huge risks just like what transpired in the ‘Molue’ era. Some people are today seen standing precariously as the canoes slither on the water.
This enormous risk is being taken in a state where incidences of boat mishaps have been on the rise with heavy casualties. These are avoidable risks which responsible and responsive governments can help their citizens avoid. And this can be done by urgently responding to the factors that have been responsible for the gridlocks in Apapa in the recent times.
One hopes that the movement of Julius Berger tractors into Liverpool Road to commence construction will indeed bring the much-awaited respite at the end of the day.