Governor Babajide Sanwo- Olu of Lagos State has been declaring a toll-free passage at the toll plaza on Lekki-Epe Expressway and the Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge. That is with a view to developing strategies to ease traffic on the axis. But in spite of this and other plans to free traffic, more motorists want the governor to urgently fix potholes across the metropolis. MURITALA AYINLA writes
Nothing bites Lagos motorists harder than endless hours of uncontrolled gridlock.
With the estimated population of over 22 million claimed by the state government based on data from the independent census it conducted in 2006, the state is confronted with challenges faced by other world’s mega cities.
Associated with this mega city status are urban problems, prominent among these are problems of poor infrastructure and chaotic traffic congestion. Lagos vehicular traffic congestion knows no time and has no regard for anybody.
As the rich lament over the persistent gridlock, so also do the poor groan in the holdup which usually last for hours. From Mile 2 to Iyana Iba; Oshodi to Iyana Ipaja and Agege, from Ketu to Ikorodu, hapless commuters have come to accept that almost half of their days could be spent in some traffic jam or ‘Go-slow’. So prevalent is the traffic congestion that motorists scramble for space and have little or no regards for ambulances and other vehicles on emergency.
Today, travelling on most Lagos roads is a hellish experience, especially when driving through unfamiliar terrain. While some of the traffic congestions in the state metropolis are blamed on potholes which dot major parts of the roads, perennial traffic snarl on Ikoyi-Lekki and Ajah axis are usually attributed to the tolling system on the corridor.
Realising that traffic management could pose a serious challenge to governance in the state as it was for his predecessors, Governor Babjide Sanwo-Olu signed an Executive Order to address the issue of traffic control and management, fixing of potholes on the roads, sanitation as well as cleaning of drainages in the state.
While signing the Order, the governor declared: “I think we have to make some points about issues that happen around transportation, potholes on our roads, blockages and rest of it. I think it is something we need to tackle immediately.”
He therefore, directed the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) to operate a minimum of two shifts by managing traffic until 11:00pm daily, saying, “We want to ensure that we control traffic until everybody gets home safely. LASTMA should, therefore, extend its working hours and ensure traffic control till 11p.m.”
Sanwo-Olu also charged LASTMA to effectively carry out their functions by ensuring strict compliance with all extant traffic rules and regulations as prescribed in the enabling law, adding that another pronouncement would be made soon to address the issue of one-way driving on Lagos roads. Concerned by the increasing gridlock along Ajah-Lekki and Ikoyi corridor, Sanwo- Olu in less than a week declared toll-free passage of vehicles on the axis free for six hours to enable the government carry out a study on the pattern of traffic in the area. According to the governor, the plazas were open for free passage to vehicles between 6.30 -9.30am and 4.30 -8.00pm, adding that the purpose was to study the traffic situation in the area with a view to finding lasting solutions to the issue of traffic gridlock in the area.
Sanwo-Olu said: “The objective is that we want to do a real simulation of traffic study. When you open the toll plaza, where does the traffic get into? Does it disperse and go completely away or do we transfer it somewhere else? It is only when we do this at the peak hour, we would be able to understand and appreciate what would be the effect of it.
“We just want to do a study and also appreciate Lagosians that we are not unmindful of the challenge we have with the two plazas, but our government wants to bring about a different journey time and the way we want to do it is to have online real time study of what all the issues are”. After the study, the governor explained that the government would be able to analyse and proffer solutions to the problem, saying that his administration remained committed to tackling the gridlock.
While inspecting ongoing rehabilitation work on major roads in Iju area of the state by Lagos State Public Works Corporation on Sunday, Sanwo-Olu, who was accompanied by his deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, said the contractor handling the bridge construction was being prepared for re-mobilisation back on the site.
He expressed concern over the pains residents go through due to regular gridlock on the alternative routes occasioned by abandoned project, saying that his government would compensate for the discomfort by ensuring timely completion of the bridge.
He said: “I can assure you that we are currently in talks with the contractors handling key road projects in Ikorodu, which are Igbogbo and Ishawo roads, and also a critical project in Agege area, which is the Pen-Cinema Bridge.
Our promise is that, if it is not by end of this month; then, by next month, the contractors will be fully mobilised back on sites to complete the work. “We are particularly concerned about the pain motorists are going through because of the incomplete construction of Pen-Cinema Bridge.
We are hoping that the contractor handling the bridge construction, too, will be mobilised back on site. Once we push these three critical infrastructure and get them completed, relief would come to residents in these areas.”
Assuring the people that the road rehabilitation would be ongoing to until 100 major roads marked for repair in all Local Government Areas across the state get done, the governor said the ongoing road repair across the state was an outcome of his Executive Order, which declared emergency rehabilitation of critical roads.
Beyond Sanwo-Olu’s panacea
Despite Sanwo-Olu’s efforts at improving the traffic congestion in the state through extension of their operation till 11pm and increment of their allowances, some sections of Lagosians want the governor to pay attention to other factors responsible for the gridlock.
According to them, the executive order shouldn’t be made to look as if the officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority,
LASTMA were empowered to further humiliate the hapless motorists without addressing the deplorable condition of the state road.
Speaking with New Telegraph, Mrs. Sarah Akinola, who also appealed to governor to declare emergency on fixing of the dilapidated roads, hailed the government for exposing the corrupt LASTMA officers that demanded bribes from motorists.
She said: “From Ikeja to Egbeda; Ikotun to Akowonjo; Agidingbi to Berger, there is hardly a place you won’t see potholes in Lagos.
Governor Sanwo-Olu must address this as fast as possible. Only this will make the executive order on traffic management effective.”
We have commenced full-scale road repairs, says LSPWC
Reacting to the complaints over deplorable roads in the metropolis, the General Manager, Lagos State Public Works Corporation, LSPWC, said that the corporation has commenced full-scale routine repair and rehabilitation of roads across the state in fulfillment of Governor Sanwo-Olu’s Executive Order on zero tolerance for potholes.
Speaking on the ongoing rehabilitation of Iju road, Daramola, said that the Corporation has been providing palliatives with the use of boulders and crush stones on strategic roads across the state to ensure free flow of traffic in spite of incessant rainfall witnessed in Lagos in the past few weeks.
He said: “Presently road rehabilitation work is ongoing in 26 different locations which include Oke-Afa Isolo, Ejigbo, Ikotun- Ijegun axis, Oba Sekumade and Bayeku road at Ikorodu, Iddo inward Idumota, Ahmadu Bello way, Alfred Rewane Road, Ikorodu road, Ojota interchange opposite LAMATA office and Ikotun-Ijegun road, Damalong link (Jibowu-Moshalashi).
But a resident of Ikotun-Ijegun , Mrs Titi Anifowoshe, said that the motorists are yet to feel the impact of the corporation, saying some potholes were not touched at all while some potholes were only filled with granites.