When Governor Akinwunmi Ambode sanctioned the commencement of the rehabilitation, and expansion, of the Lagos-Abeokuta expressway to accommodate a BRT lane, the relief felt by commuters and motorists who ply the road daily was indescribable. At last, they would be spending lesser time in traffic on the deplorable road, or so they thought.
It’s almost a year since the construction company contracted to execute the project moved its digger-tractors and other equipment to the Iyana Ipaja – Oshodi axis, but commuters’ plights have only been made worse than they used to be.
“I wonder why they didn’t contract the job out to a more reliable road construction company like Julius Berger,” one visibly frustrated passenger said on a bus with Newsroom‘s correspondent.
The young woman, we gathered, works at an IT firm and she had already received a query as a result of her lateness to work due to the terribly bad road.
“I’m expecting another query anytime soon,” she said in despair.
The woman’s plight mirrors the frustration, anger, and disappointment felt by every road user. Every morning, commuters spend no lesser than 30 – 45 minutes in a gridlock from Iyana-Dopemu to Mangoro, and end up spending well over two hours in a journey that would normally take a maximum of an hour – even at rush hour.
Regular commuters and motorists have constantly lamented the slow pace and disorganized manner with which workers on the road carry out their duties. They are of the opinion that the contractors are taking too long to complete the project.
On most days, only a handful of workers are sighted on the road, while many of them sit around idly with no visible leadership. On the worst days, particularly since the rain began, workers refrain from visiting the site for days on end.
The construction workers have left no service lane for motorists to ensure ease of movement, as gaping manholes and heaps of debris fill both sides. Several portions of the road which were dug have been left abandoned, thereby making it extremely difficult for motorists to navigate their ways. Many motorists are left with no choice but to take the alternative Agege route to beat the unavoidable traffic most mornings.
“They (the contractor) are confused, they don’t know what they are doing,” another angry passenger, a man, said after the bus he boarded got stuck in the gridlock one Monday morning.
Commercial bus drivers have already seized the traffic situation as a reason to inflate bus fares to a ridiculously high level. Bus fares that ranged between N100-N150 have now been increased to N200-N250 and much more on a very bad day.
Many commuters have also resorted to taking the dangerous means of transportation, so as to get to their workplaces on time. Such desperation has led commuters to pay as much as N500-N1000 to mount motorcycles, facing ‘one-way’ and risking their lives, even as operatives of the Lagos Task Force erroneously chase some of them to accidents.
Effects on Businesses
When Newsroom’s correspondent visited the road on Monday, commuters, motorists, and artisans only had sad tales to tell.
“It has really affected our business,” a furniture maker in the Cement area told us. “There is too much dust and we can barely showcase our works as we used to. The bad road also makes it difficult for any customer to approach us for sale. We hope the government will look into this and speed up the construction as soon as possible”.
Another businessman in the area told us, “The bad road is even causing several accidents because impatient drivers bash other people’s cars during rush hours. One of such accidents happened here on Saturday, people had to find alternative means by taking bikes. It was terrible.”
The complaints had gotten to the state government months back, prompting the LASTMA boss, Mr Chris Olakpe, to release a statement placating commuters on the road that their pain would soon become a thing of the past.
Sadly, four months after Olakpe’s plea, commuters’ terrible experience on the road daily holds little promise of ending soon, particularly if the contractor continues with the current mode of operation.
Efforts by Newsroom to reach the office of the Lagos State Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure for comments have so far proved abortive at the time of filing this report.
While many of the commuters and motorists continue to express optimism that the benefits of the road construction far outweigh the current inconvenience, their patience is, indeed, wearing thin.
This post was first published on Newsroom.ng.
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