For many motorists in Lagos, especially those around Allen Avenue, Ikeja, Ikotun, Maryland and Lekki, traffic situations have remarkably improved in these areas with the removal of roundabouts and replacement with junction improvement projects. Muritala Ayinla reports
With estimated population of more than 22 million claimed by the state government following data from the independent census it conducted in 2006, the state is confronted with challenges faced by other world’s mega cities. For a state that never goes to sleep, nothing bites Lagos motorists and commuters harder than endless hours of uncontrolled traffic congestion.
Even the recent increase in the patronage of water transportation which made the Lagos State Ferry Service targeted 480,000 daily, Lagos roads are still said to be the busiest in the country with about 1.6 million moving on Lagos roads every day.
Hence, chaotic traffic congestion remains a feature of Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial nerve centre. 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, the hapless commuters have come to accept that almost half of their days could be spent in some ‘Hold-up’ 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. Any visitor just need to tune to the Lagos Traffic Radio anytime to confirm what some Lagosians face on the roads before getting to their destinations anytime of the day.
Travelling on most Lagos roads could be a hellish experience, especially when driving through unfamiliar terrain. Some of the congestions are blamed on potholes which dotted major part of the metropolis while vehicular congestion on Ikoyi-Lekki and Ajah axis are blamed on the tolling system on the corridor, some on the poorly planned infrastructure which the growing population has rendered ineffective or cause of the major gridlock.
For instance, some roundabouts have overstayed their usefulness and no longer have the capacity to accommodate the high vehicular movements.
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 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.” The governor didn’t stop at that, he 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.” To put a lasting solution to some of the gridlock areas, the governor initiated the junction improvements projects at some traffic prone areas of the state through the state Ministry Transportation.
The idea behind the project was to completely remove the roundabouts which occupied the 90 percent of the road and to expand the road to accommodate more vehicles at a time there by enhancing free traffic flow. The projects which include proper lanemarking, installation of traffic signal light and other facilities that will enhance free vehicular movement on the roads.
New Telegraph gathered that the projects were parts of Governor Babajide Sanwo- Olu‘s administration huge investment in the transport sector, stated that efficient traffic management and transportation is crucial to achieving a 21st century economy needed in an emerging smart city like Lagos.
Speaking on the project, Commissioner for Transportation, Dr. Frederic Oladeinde said that as the increase in the influx of vehicles that ply Lagos roads on a daily basis have out grown the capacity of the junctions, adding that there is an urgent need to reconfigure them to increase the junction capacity by signalizing the junctions to ease congestion.
He said: “You will agree with me that all these junctions and roundabouts have overstayed their usefulness as they no longer have the capacity to accommodate the high vehicular movements, this has contributed to traffic congestions especially during peak hours, so the junctions were reconfigured to increase their capacities.”
The Commissioner, who expressed satisfaction with the level of works done at the Allen Junction Improvement Project, commended Lagos residents for enduring the pain of traffic bottleneck experienced during the construction expressing satisfaction that the traffic situation is now improved.
Harping on the Lekki projects, the commissioner added that the projects have added aesthetic beauty to Lekki corridor aside from bringing improvement to traffic gridlocks often experienced in the area.
The junction improvement was carried out at six location which of include three on Lagos Island precisely on Lekki axis and three on the mainland comprising Allen Roundabout, Maryland Roundabout, Ikotun Roundabout.
The General Manager, Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), Engr. Olajide Oduyoye said in addition to the junction improvement project, his men will be fully on ground to direct traffic to ensure free vehicular movement at all times and unlock traffic gridlocks where necessary.
The General Manager urged the residents to continue to support the State Government in the enforcement of the State Traffic Laws, adding that the ban on Okada/ keke Napep operations is for the safety of lives and properties of the residents.
Speaking with New Telegraph, Gbenga Salami, a journalist and resident, commended Governor Sanwo-Olu for rising to the need of motorists on the traffic congestion but called on the state government to place emphasis on fixing of the potholes across the metropolis.
“Let’s there be good road first before serious implementation of the law and executive order. Roads are bad and some are under completed. These are one of the reasons people drive against the traffic,” he said. Also speaking, Bimbo Eyotayo who works in one of the new generation banks, said the junction improvement projects have helped the traffic flow in Lagos particularly around Allen Avenue.
According to her, prior to the execution of the project, she spent close to an hour from Alausa to Ikeja underneath the bridge depending on the time. Beyond Junction Improvement Projects In line with the Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s T.H.E.M.E.S agenda, the state Ministry of Transportation also embarked on lane marking and painting of the kerbs across the state.
The state government said that lane marking was part of the moves to enhance traffic flow while also beautifying the roads. It said that the project was aimed at improving on the State road infrastructure to ensure safety and free vehicular movements, thereby reducing traffic gridlocks to a barest minimum.
The road marking and Kerbs painting project took place in areas such as: Obafemi Awolowo Way, Ikeja and Allen/ Opebi road with the use of retro-reflective paints.
Other areas currently being covered according to him include; Ahmadu Bello Way, Ozumba Mbadiwe, Adeola Odeku in Victoria Island. Alhaji Masha Street, Eric Moore in Surulere, Yaba, Ilupeju, LASU-Iba road, Ojo Local Government area. Others are are: Ekoro Ajasa Command road, Ibeshe road, Broad Street, Marina, Admiralty road, Igbo -Elerin road, Wempco Road.
According to the Commissioner for Transportation, Dr Oladeinde, the road marking and kerbs painting project help to reduce road accidents, adding that the marks will clearly indicate the number of lanes provided on each road, highlight turning points, edge lines, crosswalk, kerbs and pavements. He added that warning signals and directional information provided would be of great help to motorists to obey traffic laws while driving.
Despite Governor Sanwo-Olu’s efforts at improving traffic congestion in the state through fixing of potholes 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.
They also appealed to the governor to pay attention to the rail transportation to completely reduce the burden on Lagos roads.