THIRD MAINLAND BRIDGE: Traffic gridlock paralyses business activities in Lagos •Commuters besiege rail, ferry stations
July 10, 2012 in Nigerian Current Affairs
LAGOS residents, particularly users of the Third Mainland Bridge, on Monday suffered a lot of hardships as a result of the traffic gridlock that rocked the state, due to the ongoing rehabilitation of the bridge.
When Nigerian Tribune visited some of the sections leading to the bridge in the early hours of Monday, scores of people who were heading to their various offices, schools and business places were stranded at bus stops, while motorists were locked in massive gridlock that stretched over kilometres.
Even some places not directly linked to the bridge were not spared this ordeal as evident in the way hundreds of people heading to CMS were stranded for many hours at the Lag Bus bus stop at Oshodi, under bridge area of the state.
At the Iyana Oworo end of the bridge, some of the stranded commuters, many of who, it was gathered, had been waiting for hours at the bus stop, were seen scrambling for the few available buses, while the number of people who had to stand in commercial vehicles, including BRT and Lag Buses, rose significantly.
Those who could not get any commercial bus had to resort to begging for free rides from private car owners.
Another fallout of the development was an unprecedented way at which the very few available commercial bus drivers shot their fares up, with a view to cashing in on the situation.
For instance, fares from Iyana Oworo to Obalende rose by about 100 per cent from N100 to N200, while that of Iyana Oworo to Eko-Idumota rose to N250. Commercial motorcycles riders were not also left out, as many of them were seen lifting passengers at exhorbitant prices.
Economic activities, especially on the Inland, were also affected, as many operators living on the Mainland, but who usually sell their wares or provide services on the Island were left bemused at various bus stops leading to the Island, even at a time when they ought to have been at their various duty/business posts.
However, apparently in a bid to manage the traffic and also help maintain law and order, some police officers, as well as workers of the Lagos State Transport Management Authority (LASTMA), who came with some towing vehicles, were observed to have been stationed at the Iyana-Oworo end of the bridge.
Apart from Iyana Oworo, there was also another gridlock from Charly Boy Bus Stop to Anthony and same could also be said about Ikorodu Road, where traffic jam was also experienced for several hours.
Meanwhile, a statement credited to the state Commissioner for Transport, Mr Kayode Opeifa, said “vehicles from the Lagos end of the bridge (from Obalende, Ikoyi, Victoria Island, Lekki) will be diverted from the Third Mainland Bridge at Adeniji Adele Interchange, towards Carter Bridge, to link Iddo interchange.
“Between 12 noon and 12 midnight, vehicles approaching from Oworonshoki and Ikeja/Toll gate/Ikorodu Road end of the bridge will be diverted at Oworonshoki Interchange to Ikorodu Road (via Anthony interchange) to Funsho Williams Avenue to Eko Bridge and on.”
Following the gridlock created by the repair works on the Third Mainland Bridge, commuters in Lagos, on Monday, besieged train and ferry stations.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that diversion of traffic on the bridge began on Sunday, following the kick off of the repair works by the Minister of State for Works, Mr Bashir Yuguda.
NAN visited the ferry and railway terminals in the state on Monday and reported that the diversion of road traffic had further put pressure on the two other means of transportation.
The Ijoko and Agbado terminals of the Mass Transit Train Service (MTTS) of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) were filled to capacity as early as 5.00 a.m for the 5.30 a.m train.
The already congested coaches were under pressure on Monday, as many passengers sat on the roofs, while others hung on the entrance and sides of the coaches.
Some commuters, who spoke to NAN, urged the management of the NRC to provide more locomotives and coaches, especially during the partial closure of the Third Mainland Bridge.
Water transportation also recorded a surge in passengers, following the partial closure of the bridge.
NAN reported that car parks provided by the waterways transport operators at Majidun, Ebute, Ijede and Baiyeku in Ikorodu area were jam-packed, as their owners took to ferry service.
An official of the Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA), Mr Edunola Adeola, assured commuters that the waterway was a safe and fast means of transportation, adding that safety measures had been put in place.
NAN reported that transport fares from Ikorodu to CMS or Victoria Island by speedboat is N600, while the ferry service costs N400.
The closure caused traffic gridlock in most parts of the city, resulting in the loss of many man-hours.
NAN reported that many workers and traders, who left their homes early to beat the anticipated road congestion, were still trapped in the gridlock.
Many workers and traders did not get to their places of work as late as 11.45 a.m.
The Balogun and Idumota markets on the Lagos Island were bereft of their early morning sales, as many of the traders were still in the traffic.
Some of the offices in Lagos Island, especially banks, were also affected.
Few workers and customers were seen in banking halls in the early hours of the morning.
Some traders, who shuttle daily from the Lagos Mainland to transact businesses on the Lagos Island, said they left their houses at 4.00 a.m to beat the traffic.
Others said they used the ferry services from Ikorodu to make it to Lagos Island early.
Some traders at the Balogun and Idumota markets, however, said it was too early to count losses.
Mrs Taibat Adegbite, a trader, said things were still normal, adding that “I think prices and fares are still normal.
Nothing has gone up except for the gridlock today coming to the market.”
“We cannot even say that business have been affected because it’s too early to ascertain, but everything has been good so far,” Adegbite said.
Mrs Funke Olajide, a sales representative, said that she used the ferry to get to the market on the Lagos Island.
“I stay in Ikorodu and I had to use ferry; none of our staff came late because we all took the ferry.
“Business is a little slow, but that’s how it is every morning. Business is still normal for now, wholesalers are still coming to make their orders,” Olajide said.
Mr Saheed Usman, a commercial bus driver, who operates from the mainland to Lagos Island, said the gridlock had not affected fares.
“The fare from here to Oworonsoki is still N150, but the traffic is slowing down our business because I should have gone three to four times but this is just my first trip at 10.25 a.m.
Mr Sunday Adesola, also a commercial bus driver, said also that the partial closure of the Third Mainland Bridge would affect his daily turnover.
Adesola said that the gridlock made transporters to spend more time on the roads, stressing that the bad condition of the Lagos roads had compounded the traffic situation.
He said that the alternative roads should have been rehabilitated before the partial closure of the bridge.
Mr Joseph Sunday, a commercial driver, said that his trip from Ikeja to CMS was extended by two hours because of the gridlock.
NANreports that in spite of the agony of commuters across Lagos, prices of food items and transport fares remained relatively stable.
Via The Nation