The gridlock on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway got worse on Tuesday as travellers returning from the Sallah celebration were trapped in traffic that lasted many hours.
Both sides of the expressway at Longbridge and Magboro, Ogun State, were blocked and vehicular movement was at a standstill after impatient motorists and commercial drivers drove against traffic.
PUNCH Metro gathered that the traffic snarl at Berger, Lagos State, spread to inner roads, including Ogba, Alausa, and Ojodu areas of the state.
The traffic on the expressway resurfaced recently after the resumption of construction works at the Otedola/Secretariat end of the road.
The situation was compounded by the heavy rainfall in the last few days, which affected some sections of the road, as vehicles slow down to avoid potholes.
Commuters, who spoke to our correspondents on Tuesday, wondered why the government was not showing concern for the plights of users of the road.
A Sienna bus passenger, who identified himself only as Saheed and was travelling to Lagos, said, “I am fed up. I have spent more than two hours in the traffic from Magboro and I have not even got to OPIC. You can see my family in the bus; they are stressed already.”
A motorist, Chief Abdulrazak Adeyemi, said he had an emergency in Ibadan, Oyo State, which he must resolve that day, but the traffic trapped him for four hours.
“I don’t know if I’ll be able to get to Ibadan (Tuesday) because I have an emergency family matter to resolve there today,” Adeyemi added.
A commuter, Hajia Rukayat, said she came to Lagos from Ilorin, Kwara State, to buy goods, adding that she had been in the traffic for several hours.
“The government should help us. It really makes the journey stressful when the road is not free,” she stated.
A motorist, Adedayo, said he got caught up in the traffic at Berger and spent over one hour before getting to OPIC.
Another motorist, Tunde, who was driving against traffic, said he took the decision because he “had no other choice.”
“I can’t afford to stay for longer hours in the traffic. The traffic officials have no choice than to allow us to pass,” he added.
A truck driver, Adamu, while lamenting the gridlock, said if he had the option of plying one-way, he would not hesitate to do it.
Our correspondents observed that the two bypasses which were created by motorists beside PUNCH Place and Karamel Industries along the expressway were also blocked.
Some commuters at the OPIC end of the expressway heading towards Lagos resorted to trekking, as they could not find a bus to convey them.
Meanwhile, the gridlock got hawkers excited, as they made brisk business in the traffic.
A beverage hawker, Eze Obiora, told PUNCH Metro that she recorded massive sales for the past few days that the traffic had been on.
She said, “We can’t compare the sales we make now with what we made before the traffic started. In fact, we sell more in traffic because people buy more. I’m excited that the traffic is happening; sales are high and so is the profit. We don’t pray for free traffic.”
A man hawking sausage, Olawale Demola, claimed he sold three cartons since he resumed around 7am on Tuesday, adding that without traffic, he might still be struggling with a carton.
He said, “This traffic is giving me joy because I will get more commission from my madam. We are being paid based on the sales we make each day, but for the past few weeks, my sales have increased.”
The Ogun State Sector Commander of the Federal Road Safety Corps, Ahmed Umar, said those driving against traffic compounded the traffic.
He said, “The traffic is a counter-flow caused by those returning from Sallah inward and outward of Lagos, but we are doing the best we can. We were fully prepared for this. If you go to Kara where the situation used to be worse, you will see our men there, including the police and military men. Even our men from Lagos have joined.
“The traffic is moving slowly; it is not completely blocked. Our people have also refused to be disciplined. Their impatience is compounding the situation. We are also having hectic time with those taking one-way, and this is being caused by VIPs using convoys. They are the ones other vehicles follow. And if we try to turn them back, they will take advantage of the vulnerability of our officials and attack them.”
The Federal Controller of Works, Ogun State, Umar Bakare, blamed the failed portions of the road for the traffic.
According to him, palliative works were done on the road before Sallah, but the high volume of vehicles damaged the road.
“You should also know that there is construction going on there and it is uncommon for construction to be going on without traffic. Some palliatives were also carried out between Longbridge and Kara bridge a couple of days before the Sallah holiday. You know road construction cannot be done during the rainy season. Though the high volume of vehicles affected the work done, especially around OPIC, they will all be fixed,” he added.