Remembering the 15-hour Lagos-Ibadan Expressway gridlock

Many motorists, other road users and indeed residents would not forget last week in a hurry especially Wednesday November 16, 2016.

On that day, economic activities on most parts of Lagos State, especially the Mainland were shut down due to an accident involving several trucks and other vehicles on the Berger Bridge end of the road inward the long bridge.

Reports had it that the fire started as early as 5am.

It was also gathered that no fewer than six vehicles were involved in the fire incident comprising a tanker, laden with Premium Motor Spirit PMS also called petrol, one articulated truck carrying bags of grains suspected to be rice and four other cars, one of them being a  Toyota Corolla and others not easily identified.

The Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Road Safety Corps and even eyewitness also reported that no fewer than four persons lost their lives while several others were injured.

According to them, the tanker laden with PMS, which was coming from the Berger end of the road lost control and rammed into the truck carrying rice and both exploded into fire, which also engulfed other vehicles around them.

It was further gathered that the inferno arising from the explosion was so much that the two fire fighting trucks from the Lagos State Fire Service, Alausa could not arrest the raging fire until the tanker as well as the other vehicles burnt down completely.

However, efforts were made by the operatives of the FRSC and those of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority LASTMA

and other relevant agencies of the government, could to help the situation as they had to remove the carcasses of the already burnt vehicles after the wild inferno.

This accident, had completely blocked both sides of the road, which remains a major artery in and out of Lagos, thus causing a major gridlock on both sides of the road that lasted for over 15 hours, which  adversely affected other major roads in the state.

Stranded commuters were seen in their large numbers trying to catch buses to their various destinations, thus leading to hike in fares.

For instance, commercial bus operators, were charging as much as N300 from Arepo to Berger, which is a five-minute drive, which fare was not more than N100 under normal circumstances.

Motor cycle operators popularly called okada were charging as much as N500 per a passenger from  Arepo to Berger while buses were charging N500 from Berger to Mowe-Ibafo.

That day was memorable because some husbands and wives, who drove to work in different cars slept on the gridlock but at different points on the stretch.

There was a couple who went in different cars with the children, who were picked from school that afternoon by the wife, all slept on the traffic jam.

There were reports of a man, who abandoned his wife and children in the car on the long bridge and ran for his dear life when men of the underworld started their operation at the dead of the night.

Investigations showed that the very slow pace of the construction works being done by Julius Berger plc on both sides of the long bridge helped to compound the issue.

Motorists and other road users have been subjected to untold hardships since June 7, 2016 when the company commenced the rehabilitation work rather on a snail speed.

It would be recalled that there have been several cases of armed robbery incidents through scores of Nigerians have lost their lives while many others have lost personal belongings, as hoodlums have taken advantage of the perennial gridlock on both sides of the road to wreck havoc on unsuspecting members of the public.

But days after this incident, the traffic situation has taken a new dimension for the worse.

The most worrisome aspect of the issue is that days after the incident, the traffic situation has persisted and everybody including the government seems helpless.

This ugly trend, which most of the road users have become used to has adverse effect not only on the wellbeing of the people but also on the nation’s economy.

Little wonder transport and logistics experts have reported that Nigeria loses over 30 per cent of Gross Domestic Product GDP to the imperfections in her transport systems.