As the gridlock along the Lagos-Ibadan expressway occasioned by the ongoing reconstruction of the road by Julius Berger Construction Company bites harder, residents working in Lagos now take refuge on the Island, mainland and in churches.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that hundreds of residents living in the adjourning communities along the ever-busy expressway but working in Lagos now squat in various places ranging from churches to relatives and friends.
The residents who spoke to NAN lamented the lackadaisical attitude of the contractor (Julius Berger) handling the road that reputably has 250 vehicles on it every day.
The 127.6-kilometre-long road inaugurated by President Olusegun Obasanjo in 1978 is one of the largest road networks in Africa and the busiest inter-state route in Nigeria.
The only accessible road that leads to the commercial capital of the country is however awarded for reconstruction after years of neglect by the previous governments.
The reconstruction of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, according to the commuters is moving at a snail’s speed owing to the years already spent on building it.
The section being handled by Julius Berger from Sagamu to Lagos, however, looks the guiltiest of the commuter’s complaints as the company has been accused of unprofessional conduct in handling the reconstruction.
There are times when accidents involving articulated will cause gridlock for hours on the road because there are no recovery vehicles to pull them away, especially the Ogun State axis of the road.
There are also times when commuters are forced down from their vehicles to resort to trekking which may take hours, some getting home by 2 a.m. against 5 p.m. when they left their offices.
The gridlock is compounded by road diversion by the Berger Construction Company to allow reconstruction of the 600 meters stretch of the expressway from Kara Bridge inward Berger.
The Kara Bridge inward Berger road has become a nightmare since its partial closure on Sept. 2 as motorists and commuters spend hours in the gridlock close to two hours every day.
One of the complaints of the commuters is on the absence of recovery vehicles to tow away breakdown vehicles from the road, especially articulated trucks and tankers.
Mr. Abiodun Obadan told NAN that the reason for the regular occurrence of the vehicular breakdown was due to the stress on the road, adding that most of the car engines would have worn out before getting to Berger.
“We are facing a lot of problems on the road. Julius Berger handling the section of Sagamu to Lagos has not been fair to us at all because they are just reconstructing the road in bits.
“From Mowe where I stay to Berger, there are about three to four diversions which cause traffic, so imagine a car in traffic for four hours daily, what do you expect from that car.
“Most of the vehicles plying the roads will develop a fault as a result of overheating occasioned by the heavy traffic. And if I may ask, what is the wisdom in reconstructing the roads in bits?
“Another problem is the mismanagement of the road, the road which should have been four lanes has been narrowed to two lanes yet, Berger will not patch the potholes on the narrowed lanes,’’ he said.
Mr Femi Adelola, one of the residents living in Asese but forced to relocate to his friends’ place, said he took the decision so as not to lose his job.
“I am almost on the edge because I already have two queries as a result of coming late to work and this is nothing else than hours spent on getting to Lagos.
“Before I relocated, I will have to leave my home around 5 a.m., but will not be able to get to work until 9.a.m., because I am working on the Island.
“The worst part of it is that the long hours spent in the traffic is already taking a toll on my health because I barely sleep, the contractor, Berger is the one mismanaging the road.
“They don’t care about the gridlock on the road at all. Is it proper for Julius Berger’s workers to close from the site as early as 4 a.m, for a road that is as busy as that?
Mr. Soji Martins who now relocated to Gbagada said the decision to relocate was best for him, adding that he almost lost his life to armed robbers attack the long bridge.
“I had to abandon my house and seek tenants because I cannot cope again. Imagine that I was attacked when coming from work on the long bridge because there was no presence of security personnel.
“On that fateful day when I was attacked, the robbers had a field day and the worst part of it is that it was around 10 p.m. after we have spent hours on the road,’’ he said.
A retiree of Yaba College of Technology (Yabatech), Mr. Oladotun Owamokele, told NAN that he had to be sleeping in the church to avoid sleeping on the road.
“I am now a refugee in the church because I cannot stand the rigour of spending hours in the traffic.
“I don’t understand the reason for leaving broken down vehicles on the narrowed lanes without being attended to. Sometimes, it can take two hours to remove them from the busy road.
“If Julius Berger cannot afford to buy recovery vehicles, why can’t the government an agency such as the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) buy them to easy the traffic?
“I must also say that Julius Berger as a construction company looks incapable of handling the reconstruction the road using the other contractor handling another side as a yardstick,’’ he said.