While Nigerians are battling with the hardship caused by fuel scarcity, Lagosains are not just facing that alone. Traffic gridlock, especially in Apapa, Lagos has made the fuel scarcity a more unbearable for Lagosians.
The gridlock which has almost become a permanent thing in the past few days was caused by petrol tankers, which blocked the highways, leading to Apapa depot, thereby compelling commuters to trek to work or their various businesses. The development led to blocking of the routes through which motorists could have manoeuvred the traffic, leaving passengers and drivers lamenting.
The traffic jam which was at its peak on Wednesday, May 6 and Thursday, May 7 , as it caused untold stress to the commuters and forced many to abandon their destinations and return home. Some motorists also abandoned their vehicles on the roadside and took other means to their destination in the hope to come back and pick them up when traffic would have eased.
“It is not good at all, thousands of Lagosians have resorted to trekking because the roads are blocked. Our driver took all alternative routes but met all blocked. I disembarked from the vehicle which I boarded at Surulere and took to trekking to Lagos Island, which you know is a good distance,” a commuter said.
Another commuter who identified himself as Wale lamented that he trekked from Surulere to Lagos Island. “This is very bad. I do not know what could have caused this pain on all of us. Our leaders should be proactive in arresting a situation like this which has subjected us to hardship,” he said.
“We have been trapped in this traffic and merry-go-round a lot without getting to our destination; it is quite painful that our leaders are not proactive. I would have trekked too but where I am going is far, I am not enjoying this anyway,” said a civil servant who said he had been held up at the same spot in the traffic for over three hours.
Also speaking, a freight forwarder, Chukwudi Nwuche decried the state of the port access roads even as he said the tankers loading g fuel were supposed to be given numbers instead of everyone using the roads at once. “Everyone of them moved at once hence making the road unbearable for other users. They should have been given tally number or even asked to move in the night when vehicular traffic on the road will be lesser,” he said.
Ironially, while the gridlock was caused by tankers on the Lagos highways in a bid to load fuel from Apapa depot, there seem to be no solution to the lingering fuel scarcity. James Ogbole, a banker at the Ojuelegba area of Lagos said that although many of the tankers were moving to the ports to lift fuel, some of them which have become nuisance to other road users yet there seems to be no solution to the fuel crisis. “So what are they doing on the highway? If there is no fuel to lift, why should they not park somewhere and clear from the highway for others to use,” he said.
The gridlock was noticed on all major roads in the Lagos metropolis. However, the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) and the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), have said that they were on top of the situation.
FRSC Lagos Sector Commander, Hyginus Omeje said there had been partnership among the Nigerian Police Force, LASTMA and the corps to detangle the gridlock.
“We have been working endlessly since we noticed the gridlock; we have tried to restrict all the tankers that trooped into Lagos to load fuel from all other states to one lane. “It has really been difficult because they are the ones causing the congestion and it is difficult to tow them, especially when they are loaded to avoid fire outbreak. This is always the aftermath of the fuel scarcity as many tankers come to lift petroleum products from tank farms that do not have loading bay,” he said.
He said that with the concentration of tank farms in the Apapa area, there should be checks on tank farms without loading bays before the issuance of certificates. The FRSC boss urged the Federal Government to endeavour to open other tank farms in Ijebu-Ode and Benin as part of the solutions to the perennial gridlock in the state.
Meanwhile, LASTMA General Manager, Babatunde Edu, told journalists that the authority has been working round the clock to arrest the situation by restricting the tankers to one single lane. “I have been here working with my men to ensure that the problem is resolved and people can enter Lagos. Tankers and other articulated vehicles entering or leaving Apapa should not lock down Lagos, they should obey traffic managers’ directive by restricting their operations to one single lane. We are working assiduously to ensure Ikorodu road is gridlock-free, and that no tanker is allowed on Eko Bridge except on Oshodi/Mile 2 road,” he said.
Edu blamed the gridlock on the bad roads along the axis, saying that though the Federal Ministry of Works worked on a portion of the road the unfinished part was a problem. According to him, for such experience not to recur, the issues of infrastructure decay and lingering fuel scarcity have to be addressed.
By Pita Ochai