For residents of Ketu, Owode Onirin, Mile 12 and Ikorodu, last week commissioning of the expansive lay-by in Ketu by the Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, would go a long way in solving the traffic problem in that axis. At any time of the day, except perhaps past 12 midnight, you can only be lucky to spend less than one hour in Ketu. One can only imagine the evident sigh of relief and joy that the residents exhibited since the commissioning.
The same innovation and strategic thinking is being replicated all over the state by Ambode and his team.
Indeed, in the last two months, I have noticed a drastic reduction in the traffic gridlock along the Third Mainland Bridge-Oworonsoki-Alapere through Lagos-Ibadan Expressway axis of Lagos. Though I noticed the slip road and multiple lay-by at the popular Iyana -oworo bus stop and the recently launched slip road and multiple lay-bys at Alapere, I didnâ€™t initially link the reduction in traffic gridlock along this axis to them. As I noticed that the traffic situation along this axis has improved daily even in the peak hours in the evening, I realised that the slip road and multiple lay-bys at Oworo, the car wash lay-by, slip road at Olopomeji, the several see-through fence and the recently launched lay-by at Alapere bus stop are responsible for this.
This is commendable and it shows that this is a government that is thinking and strategic; always providing solution with very cost effective methods. The idea of a slip road and lay-by may look simple but it is providing the much needed succour by easing the perennial traffic gridlock on the Third Mainland Bridge-Lagos-Ibadan Expressway axis. Before the slip roads and lay-bys were constructed, commercial vehicles stopped indiscriminately on the narrow expressway to discharge passengers thereby causing heavy traffic gridlock especially at the Oworonsoki end of the Third Mainland Bridge. Since the mentioned slip roads and lay-bys became operational, commercial vehicles wanting to discharge passengers have no choice than to make a right into the slip roads and lay-bys which are very spacious and beautiful. Another noticeable feature is the see-through wire fence used to demarcate the new slip road and the main expressway.
This has put a stop to the heavy human traffic crossing the expressway thereby causing another traffic gridlock with the risk of such pedestrians being knocked down.
The recently launched Alapere slip road and and multiple lay-bys that have reduced traffic gridlock on the Third Mainland Bridge-Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, would also improve the traffic situation and offer a lasting solution to the perennial traffic gridlock along Ikorodu Road. Governor Ambode must have observed the positive impact that the Oworonsoki and Alapere slip roads and lay-bys have on the traffic situation along the Third Mainland Bridge-Lagos-Ibadan Expressway within the little time it became operational when he said, â€œthe project was a significant milestone in drastically reducing the traffic along the corridor, its completion would no doubt impact directly on travel time as the targeted reduction of traffic along the length of the Third Mainland Bridge to the entire stretch of the axis, moving towards Old Toll Gate and the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway would be accomplishedâ€
Due to its effectiveness in reducing traffic gridlock according to the governor, another multiple lay-by and slip road with car park and market with big stores would be constructed in Ikosi-Isheri.
I have also noticed about three times on my way from Ibadan to Lagos, that since Berger bus stop, which is the gateway to Lagos from Ibadan has been redesigned and reconstructed with multiple lay-bys and slip road, the traffic gridlock and the maddening scene that confronts one on entering the city have all disappeared. To many Lagosians, this is like a miracle. The same thing will surely happen to Oshodi by the time the Oshodi modern bus terminal and interchange is completed.
Another first that was launched by Governor Ambode recently is the Intelligence Transport System (ITS). If this could be successfully executed as Ambode has been doing since he assumed office, the dream of Lagosians having an effective transport system which obtains in advanced countries may come true earlier than expected. The ITS involves the e-ticketing for commuters using the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), provision of additional new 800 buses in the next two months and 5,000 within 24 months as part of the Bus Reform Initiative (BRI); proper transport planning; location of each bus at any point in time; how the driver is behaving; the arrival time; space inside, among others.
With the ITS, Lagosians may begin to have a feel of a well integrated transport system as moving from one location to the other in course of their daily activities becomes much easier. It will further reduce traffic as there will be fewer vehicles on the road because many vehicle owners will prefer to patronise the buses since they now have fixed arrival and departure time and are decent and comfortable.
Moreover, the scheme will increase revenue generation of the state as many people will be attracted by the e-ticketing offer which will enable them to plan on their income weekly, monthly or yearly as may be convenient for individuals. The BRT will also reduce crime like the notorious â€œone chanceâ€ whereby criminals rob unsuspecting passengers at gun point while the vehicle is on motion and such victim would be pushed out of the vehicle on motion. Many have died as a result of this.
This kind of crime will almost be impossible with the new bus as the buses will come with CCTV camera while the movement of each bus is monitored at a base station for that purpose. It will create more jobs as the buses that are on their way will require trained drivers and other officials.
If Governor Ambode could solve the traffic gridlock in Lagos and make transportation easier for the over 20 million commuters in the city, that would amount to a monumental achievement.
While it is noted that Governor Ambode has done a lot in the area of road construction and rehabilitation by constructing or rehabilitating over 500 roads, many bridges and two landmark flyovers to ease traffic, his effort in these areas is now being felt with the construction of lay-bys and slip roads which has magically reduced traffic gridlock in such areas.
More work still need to be done in this area as the construction of slip roads and lay-bys are necessary in many other black spots noted for traffic gridlock in the city.
The officers and men of the Lagos state transport Management Agency LASTMA should be commended for their effort in solving the traffic problem in the city but they should do more in checking errant drivers and enforcing the ban on commercial motorcycles on restricted routes. The Federal Road Safety Corps are also commended for their role in ensuring free flow of traffic while the police are commended for tackling traffic robbery in the city.
Ambode is performing wonders by his many innovations towards transforming Lagos from a mega city to a smart city not in name only but in deed. Lagosians could only pray that he keeps it up.
â€“Johnson, a journalist, writes from Ibeju-Lekki