Havey Traffic in Lagos as FG commence repair on Third Mainland Bridge.
In spite of the repeated announcements of the repair work to be commenced on the Third Mainland Bridge, in Lagos, motorists still seemed caught unawares by the volume of traffic that almost froze the city for hours unend yesterday. Just everywhere and every route, the impact of the partial closure of the bridge was very visible.
The roads and streets were brimming, all day long. The peaks and troughs did not align with the usual rush hour traffic like lunch time or school runs, etc. From morning till very late last night, motorists managed to crawl through long routes tortured and frustrated.
Unarguably, the Third Mainland Bridge, which connects the Lagos Island to the mainland, is the longest bridge in Africa, snaking 11.8km-long on the edge of the Lagos lagoon. Its first phase was built by General Olusegun Obasanjo as military head of state in the 1970s and was completed in 1990 by former military president, General Ibrahim Babangida.
The bridge, which begins from Oworonshoki and terminates at the Adeniji Adele interchange, also connects midway to Herbert Macaulay Way, Yaba. Its partial closure yesterday, once again, demonstrated the importance of the bridge to the social and business life of Lagos.
The repairs being carried out by the contractors, Borini Construction Company, kicked off on Sunday and is expected to last till November 6. The outcome of the partial closure was the grinding traffic ordeal most motorists went through in several parts of the state yesterday.
The huge vehicular traffic has shown that the alternative routes announced by the Lagos State Government are certainly not enough to cater to the volume of traffic on the various routes. Some of the alternative routes as communicated by the state Commissioner for Transportation, Mr. Kayode Opeifa, link the Island through Carter Bridge, Ikorodu Road, Ebute Metta, Western Avenue, Apapa-Oshodi Expressway through Ijora and Eko Bridge.
However, the alternative routes are plagued by several highway challenges. The Ebute Metta road, for instance, was particularly troublesome as many commercial bus drivers, were as usual, reckless as they blocked parts of the roads while they touted for passengers. The Ikorodu Expressway was not left out in the ensuing melee as many commercial drivers literally seized the service lanes.
THISDAY checks revealed that several officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) were at various points of the many routes to help direct traffic and ensure that the slow flow was neither breached nor blocked. Some 700 officers of LASTMA were said to have been drafted to monitor traffic throughout the duration of the repairs.
Expectedly, several road users lamented that the alternative routes were not properly managed, and urged government to go back to the drawing board to map out a lasting solution that would ease the suffering of motorists.
Speaking to THISDAY, Mr. Olateju Ogundipe said with the hassles commuters and motorists are already passing through just as the repairs had commenced, could only mean that it would get worse in the days and months ahead.
Another motorist, Kelvin Mbanusi, said: “When we said we were scared of this closure, we knew what we were talking about because on a normal day, the traffic snarl could last four hours, so you can now imagine how many hours we will spend in traffic with the repairs.
“As much as we laud the initiative to repair the bridge, we can’t help but groan at the loss of manpower and time. To beat traffic, it is either we leave our homes by 3 am as against the normal 4 am, or we will get stuck and as businessmen, time wasted means loss of patronage.”
Emeka Iloabuchi, who also spoke to THISDAY, said the traffic jam had made him resume late at work and caused him a reprimand from his boss.
He said: “The traffic snarl was so bad that I arrived work late. My boss could not care less about the traffic situation; he gave me the bashing of my life. To avoid a repeat performance, I would simply have to wake up earlier than usual.”
However, indomitable Lagosians seemed to quickly adjust to the situation by relying on both the Traffic Radio (96.1 FM) and the social media to get minute-by-minute update on the traffic situation on the best routes to takes.
According to Austyn Azoganokhai, the traffic was exhausting. On his tweeter update, he lamented that there was mad traffic approaching Sabo from Adekunle up to Agnes Junction.
However going by updates on the traffic situation, the Third Mainland Bridge was free at 5 pm as the diversion did not affect traffic flow from the island. The spillover from Ikorodu Road affected areas like Fadeyi, Ojota, Maryland and Town Planning Way, all the way down to Stadium bus stop. The traffic also extended to the Mushin area of the state as motorists rode bumper-to-bumper.
The Apapa/Oshodi Expresway as an alternative route also proved a trying task for road users as the buildup of traffic was tortuous. Failed portions of the road only helped to compound motorists problems.
Capitalising on the situation, commercial drivers and cab operators hiked their charges because fewer buses were available on the roads. Complaining bitterly, a trader on the Island, Udoka Onu, said the closure caused a sharp increase in transport fares, moaning that it will affect business. According to her, the sharp increase in prices will spill over to the cost of goods as they would not want to sell at a loss.
Alternative means of transportation like the ferry services, which were hitherto ignored, was explored by a lot of commuters. Commuters, who could not stand the traffic situation on the roads, simply moved to the jetties and took the ferries from CMS to either Apapa or Ikorodu and vice versa.
Some commuters urged the state government to liaise with ferry operators on how to increase the number of ferries plying the waterways, especially during this period when the major bridge leading to the island has been partially blocked.
The state police command, meanwhile, promised to intensify patrols to safeguard lives and properties. According to the command’s Public Relations Officer, Ngozi Braide, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, motorists would be protected by the men of the force, adding that regular police patrols and plain-cloth policemen had been deployed all around the state.