Commercial activities in many parts of Lagos were paralysed on Thursday, March 12 due to the traffic gridlock on the Lagos-Badagry expressway and the Oshodi–Apapa axis of the state. Passengers, especially traders who usually open shops by 10am on Thursdays to observe the compulsory environmental sanitation exercise imposed by the Lagos State government, were stranded. As at noon, the traffic had stretched from Alafia near Orile down to Alakija bus-stop on Lagos- Badagry expressway. Traffic officials had a hard time controlling vehicles, many of who flouted traffic rules – especially on the Mile 2 interchange/bridge where long queue of fuel/container trucks heading towards Apapa ports could be observed moving in snail pace.
Frustrated passengers had to trek long distances in search of commercial buses, most of which avoided routes heading towards the traffic. Wasiu Taoheed, a commercial bus driver who plies Okoko-Mile 2 route said he avoided going towards Mile 2 end because his colleague gave him traffic update on the route. The few commercial buses that braved the route increased their fare by 100 percent even as stranded passengers rushed into buses not minding the fare. Ifeanyi Chinagorom, a trader who plies his trade at the Balogun Market on Lagos Island, described the situation as unfortunate saying “this traffic is going to spoil business for us today. Some people that may come to do business with us would decide to postpone coming to the market”.
Several factors were adduced for the excessive traffic including accidents, the on-going road construction on both axis and broken down trucks. A LASTMA Official at Mile 2 said the traffic is a spill over from the gridlock on the Oshodi-Apapa expressway. Damian Chukwuemeka, a clearing and forwarding agent attributed the traffic to the high clearance of containers at the Apapa ports as well as the lifting of fuel products by petrol merchants. The containers, he said, are quickly being cleared by owners before the general elections as many customers, he said were scared of the uncertainty that may follow the elections in about two weeks. “Many customers especially traders are in a rush to clear their products before the elections because they don’t know what might follow the outcome of the elections. That is why you see a lot trucks on the road,” he said.
Many have blamed the heavy gridlock in and around Apapa on the non-utilisation of rail way link in the Ports even as the Nigerian Railway Corporation runs skeletal services from the ports to other parts of the country. The Apapa port railway link was rehabilitated in 2012. Others call for a law prohibiting the movement of trucks and heavy-duty vehicles during rush hours as obtains in some African countries. Many Nigerians believe that traffic in the Lagos metropolis will continue to be a nightmare for Lagosians if these measures were not enforced.
By Osaze Omoragbon