Traffic Throes

…Fear of gridlock is the beginning of wisdom as sister agencies brace up for repairs on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway

It’s quite an armada of traffic controllers and law enforcement agencies, within a 1.4 km stretch, from the popular Berger Bus Stop in Lagos; to the Kara Cattle Market, in Ogun, at the Lagos end of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.

The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) has deployed 480 troopers, excluding divers in the worst-case scenario of vehicles plunging down the river below, as a result of avoidable crashes. These FRSC (wo)men would be joined by officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), to man the Lagos end; and Traffic Compliance and Enforcement Corps (TRACE), its Ogun State counterpart, to man the Ogun end, of the construction stretch.

Aside from these traffic agencies, the police would also be on hand to tackle any putative criminal hustler, who may have pencilled down motorists in the crawling traffic, as crime growth area, during the construction period.

Clement Oladele, FRSC Ogun Sector Commander, assured there would be no traffic meltdown, if motorists followed instructions, given by bold signage; and also obey simple traffic rules: “Motorists should follow instructions and drive cautiously… Most of the road crashes in Ogun happen around diversion and construction areas. People,” he added, “shouldn’t drive beyond 50 kilometres per hour, no matter the time of the day.”

Hyginus Omeje, FRSC’s Lagos Sector Commander, also said its officers and men for the operation were being camped at the Ojodu, Lagos, FRSC facility, near enough to the construction site; and are expected to do two shifts daily, so that they can remain fresh and attentive. “They won’t be on duty at once,” he explained, “they will be working on shifts for the period the construction will last. We are aware of how critical that portion of the road is and we don’t want any traffic to get out of control.”

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So far, there has been no report of traffic getting “out of control”, even if travellers have had to add some two hours to their travel time, while navigating that short stretch, with its humongous traffic. There is no serious report too, of flaring crime rate in the area, even if it is too early in the day to make any definite conclusion. Therefore, it is only fair to commend all the traffic and security agencies involved in that corridor, for a job well done – at least so far.

Also, from casual assessment, the contractor, Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, appears very serious, by its level and scale of mobilisation to the site. It should follow that up by doing a good job; and matching speed with quality, so that the job is well done, once and for all. Speed is imperative, so that the work is completed by early December, time enough for the road to face the December travel rush. Quality is no less important to ensure people are not subjected to similar near-shutdowns, anytime in the near-future.

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Still, all these snarls would have been avoided with more careful planning; and with less willful neglect, of vital public facilities. It is scandalous that despite the neglect of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway itself, by successive governments, other alternative routes are also in pitiable conditions. That sorry story of neglect and the present traffic pain of fixing that misdeed, epitomise governance over the years in the country.

That is why everyone must ensure this is a turning point. Henceforth, let there be a departure from the ruinous past that has birthed this paralytic present. Let the authorities plan well and give adequate attention to both the expressway and the alternative arteries. We hope too that the contractor handling the standard gauge railway from Lagos to Ibadan would also keep to the December, 2019 deadline. If this had been ready, many people would have opted for rail travel, at least during this time when the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway is being fixed, thereby reducing vehicular traffic on the road. That is the only way to maintain sanity and least disruptions, even if there is need to carry out major reconstructions on our major roads

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