With the commencement of reconstruction work on some portions of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway from Tuesday, there’s unanimity of opinion that commuters are in for torrid times in the four months during which the closure would last.
The failed portion of about 600 metres beginning from the Berger Bus Stop, Lagos, according to the Director of Highways, South West Federal Ministry of Works, Mr. Funso Adebiyi, while conducting newsmen round, said the repairs would be completed by December 15, before Christmas when more people would be travelling.
Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, the construction company handling Section 1 of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, had earlier given notification of its rehabilitation plan for August 3, advising motorists to use alternative routes such as the Lagos-Ota-Itori-Abeokuta and Ikorodu-Sagamu roads during the period. The closure was however, shifted to September 2 for an effective traffic management plan and in reaction to the plea of Nigerians for a hitch-free Eid el Kabir celebration and religious programmes, scheduled close to that period.
Adebiyi revealed that plans have been concluded to ensure smooth operation, indicating that traffic diversion on that portion would begin by September 2 and appealed for tolerance from the public, noting that inconveniences that may occur during the period should be tolerated to ensure that the dividends of good roads are delivered to the people.
Lagos State Government has also allayed fears of motorists and commuters alike, saying adequate measures are in place to effectively manage the impending traffic.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation, Musa Olawale, assured of seamless traffic within the Ogun-Lagos border of the road.
According to Musa, who was the immediate past General Manager, Lagos Stare Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA, “The part of the road being rehabilitated falls in Ogun State jurisdiction.
“Albeit, traffic will be diverted from one side of the road to the other, resulting in contraflow and not a total closure as being spread around. We have deployed adequate men of LASTMA who will complement efforts of other sister agencies like: FRSC, Vehicle Inspection Officers, VIO, and the police to control traffic and ensure safety of lives and property.
“However, there are other alternative routes that could be accessed by motorists, such as : Lagos Abeokuta Express Road, Ikorodu-Sagamu Express Road and Lekki-Epe, Ijebu-Ode Expressway.”
4 months closure of Lagos-Ibadan Expressway : LASG allays fear of motorists(Opens in a new browser tab)
“All I only urge our teeming motorists to exercise patience in the face of the slight gridlock die to the diversion, if there is orderliness, there won’t be any problem at all. So, the watchword is patience by motorists. The road work is only an extension of the road project at the tip of Lagos-end. Its just a matter of time, we shall smile at the end.”
Musa, therefore, appealed to motorists to cooperate with traffic managers by complying with directional traffic signs and instructions from traffic managers in order to ensure unnecessary traffic hiccups and confusion on the road.
Lagos Sector Commander, Federal Road Safety Corps, Mr Hygenius Umeje, said three heavy duty tow vehicles would also be provided during the period and according to him, Lagos and Ogun commands will be on ground to ensure good flow of traffic.
Workers, commuters lament impending hardship
Some workers and commuters who spoke to Sunday Vanguard agonise that it would be untold hardship for commuters and motorists plying the expressway.
A civil servant, Mr. Alaba Joseph, who lives in Ojodu, Berger and works at Magodo, said he could not imagine the suffering for people like him who use the road every day.
Alaba said, “When the expressway had not been closed, there used to be gridlock. I think it is going to be more serious now any time it is closed. It is going to affect my work schedule, meaning I now have to wake up earlier than before. I think employers around the axis might need to be compassionate towards their employees who might arrive work late sometimes owing to gridlock.”
A self employed worker, Mr. Uche Chijindu, said he may not ply the road during the closure, stating that. “I may have to cancel all my schedules anywhere round the expressway while the closure lasts,” lamenting that this is particularly regrettable coming in the last quarter of the year when work peaks before winding down in November and December.
A Lagos State civil servant in Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos, Mrs. Rashidat Olubi, who lives in Ibafo area of Ogun State said she has to relocate because of the expected traffic. “From the look of things, we are in for a tough time because of the planned closure. I am planning to relocate to my parents’ home in Agege, Lagos. I will now have to visit my family on weekends.”
Any hope in alternative routes?
Commuters bemoaned the cost implications of the alternative routes and even other means of transportation. For example, during any kind of festivity, Lagos to Ibadan by public transport costs N1,500 when the traffic flows on both sides of the expressway. Now with the partial closure of a side of the road, the fare is expected to jump, considering that the planned diversion would make the usual one hour-15-minute-journey longer, since the diversion is believed to be Abeokuta, Ogun State-bound.
Sunday Vanguard findings revealed that the repair programme was at the instance of the returning Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola. Some analysts wondered whether palliative work could have been done were ministerial appointments done expeditiously.
For John Ogunlela, the Managing Director of Thermoclays Nigeria Ltd, “We expected that some remedial work have been done on the alternative routes of Sango-Ota and Epe. The last time I went to Epe through Ijebu-Ode, it was a bad road, I found out, until you get to Epe.
Ogun State House of Assembly candidate in the last 2019 general election, Hon Sulayman Keshiro said despite the plea of Nigerians for government to do palliative works on those unmotorable alternative routes such as the Lagos – Sango Ota – Itori – Abeokuta, Ikorodu -Sagamu and Epe/Ajah-Ijebu-Ode roads, nothing was done to ease the impending suffering of commuters for the next four months on those so-called alternative routes. Are they not aware of the dilapidated condition of those roads? Government is aware. It just doesn’t care about peoples’ suffering.”