Increasing rainfall worsens commuters’ pain on Lagos bad roads

Increased rainfall has worsened the plight facing many Lagos residents such as Asake Clement, a regular commuter on Shasha Road, Akowonjo in Alimosho local government area.

Clement, a staff member of a new generation bank spent four hours last Tuesday on a journey that typically took him about 45 minutes on a hectic day.

“Rainy seasons bring tears to us. It’s that bad,” he said.

The combination of heavy downpour, ban on motorcycle operations and poor road networks battered by large potholes and bad drainages has increased the sufferings of many as the costs of transportation rise further.

Tunde Martins suffered a similar ordeal last Friday after leaving his office at Apapa, Nigeria’s premier port city, for a business meeting billed for 4pm on the island.

Putting into consideration the usual traffic jam on the expressway, the insurance expert set out by 2:30 pm, hoping he would reach his destination on the island some minutes before 4pm.

That plan failed as he got trapped in unusual traffic. Martins didn’t arrive at his destination until 6:30 pm.

“It was hell navigating through the roads. The traffic is terrible,” Martins told BusinessDay. “We are losing productive hours to the hellish traffic.”

For most Lagosians, loss of productive man-hours and business opportunities are not their only fears, there is growing uncertainty that recent flood-induced traffic jams also expose commuters to traffic robbers.

In recent weeks, many commuters were stuck in gridlock in different parts of Lagos metropolis as daily rainfall and bad roads compound the traffic situation around Nigeria’s commercial capital.

Findings by BusinessDay show that Lagos has witnessed several downpours in the last couple of days, with most potholes getting bigger and traffic jams worsened.

The arrival of the season has exposed the deplorable condition of many roads in the state, and for many commuters, there couldn’t have been a greater conspiracy between the rain and potholes to frustrate transportation.

“The absence of gutters on either side of the road causes flowing water to run on the road,” Michael Johnson, a commuter familiar with the Iyana Ejigbo axis, tweeted.

“My bus ran into a ditch this morning and wouldn’t move again. We had to disembark and push it out. The rainy season has cast serious doubts on how professional rehabilitation of roads in the state has been. It shows that the state government has not got it right yet.”

Traffic updates by the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) indicated that vehicular movements at both Lagos Mainland and Island were affected by flooding.

For instance, a video posted at 11 am on Tuesday by the agency on its Twitter handle said “due to the torrential rainfall and high influx of vehicles, traffic is slow from the Third Mainland Bridge entry point all the way thru Ilaje, Unilag Waterfront, Adekunle, and Adeniji”.

“Due to the torrential rainfall, traffic in and out of Abule Egba and Charity is on the high side but moving well due to the effective management of traffic by our Gallant Men on the ground,” LASTMA said.

At Ijora Bridge inward Apapa, the road becomes flooded whenever rain falls, making a river out a long stretch of the road and frustrating traffic flow.

“I think governor Jide Sanwolu, our governor should go out incognito to witness how Lagosians suffer in mindless traffic daily to and fro the island to the mainland. Especially the Lagos Island – Ijora Carteraxis. @followlasg has to find a solution. This adds to our health issues,” Bryan Okomowho tweeted.

Yasir Jubril, another Twitter user, said: “How can Apapa road be in Lagos? It’s a shame to this administration on both state and FG levels. I wonder why we have LASTMA there! What traffic do you want to control in all these death traps? Very shameful where is FERMA.”

For other commuters, the season is dangerous with increased downpour causing gridlocks in many parts of the city, forcing commuters to trek long distances.

Some motorists now simply park their vehicles to allow the flood to recede before they continue their journey. Many residents are finding it hard to return back to the comfort of their homes without avoidable hassles.

Victoria Olatunji, who works in Apapa and lives in Festac, complained about how difficult it had become to get to work.

She said due to the flood on the roads, transportation costs had increased. “Every bus I took had an increase of N50 or more and less buses were out for the fear of the flood causing damage to their vehicle.”

Esther Olaniyi, who works at Ijora, said she had to take another route to work to save time since the road “will be extremely bad, and there will be traffic congestion because of the rain.”

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