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Motorists’ untold hardship on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway

Last Sunday was a hectic day for motorists plying Lagos-Ibadan expressway as they were stranded for about 10 hours as a result of a tanker…

Last Sunday was a hectic day for motorists plying Lagos-Ibadan expressway as they were stranded for about 10 hours as a result of a tanker that fell on the road at Amo Oil Petrol Station near Arepo bus stop, Ogun State.

The accident was said to have been caused by the driver of a tanker who allegedly dozed –off and lost control of the long vehicle. The trailer with registration number XG 180GML loaded with petrol, was said to have hit the median and tumbled while the fuel gushed out.  

The traffic hold-up caused by this tanker started at about 6am according to witnesses that spokewith Sunday Trust, and it did not ease until 4pm in the evening after the tanker has been evacuated.

Several people including Ogun State Commissioner for Water Resources, Mr Kola Onadipe, was affected by the gridlock caused by the fallen trailer. He was forced to abandon his car and joined in the operations of men of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) for hours to ensure the highway became passable for thousands of visitors to Lagos and travelers who were travelling out of the city.

The Commander, Head of Operations, Traffic Compliance and Enforcement Agency in Ogun State, Mr Umoru Lawal, complained that the accident that caused the traffic problem was avoidable had it been drivers used to take rest when they were tired. He blamed motorists plying the highway of not being patient particularly at weekend when traffic around the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) and Mountain of Fire Ministry (MFM) used to be terrible.

However, our correspondent recalls that the ugly traffic hold-up witnessed along the Lagos-Ibadan expressway last Sunday was not the first of such. Series of traffic gridlock had happened around the RCGG and MFM arena in the past where motorists had been forced to sleep on the highway.

In the past about two decades ago, with the location of RCCG and MFM churches about 46 kilometers from Lagos, and even though the land was marshy  the vehicle traffic was not as heavy as being experienced today.  Then, visitors to the churches and those travelling to the North, South-East and South-South did not have hectic time passing through this area.

Today, much has changed.  Motorists are finding it extremely difficult to pass through the highway where these religious centers are situated. As  several churches acquired large tracts of land for campgrounds and worship centres, together they have brought rapid development  to the neighbouring towns and villages along the axis with consequent improvement in the local people‘s standard of living.

However, Oodua Trust investigations into the causes of regular traffic hold-up on this highway around the churches campgrounds revealed that these churches have brought largely unintended problem to commuters on the roads that feed their developing centers.

The Lagos-Ibadan expressway is indisputably the nation’s busiest and most heavily traversed trunk road in the country today. It ferries a tremendous number of traffic daily.  Findings showed that traffic on this highway includes heavy duty trucks, commercial buses and private cars and other category of vehicles to and from Lagos metropolis and to every other part of the country.

Such is the volume of traffic on this highway that a slightest hitch or road accident like what was experienced last Sunday soon creates heavy traffic build-ups whose ripple effects, if not properly managed as it has been experienced in the recent past by officials of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), it will degenerate into chaos and snarls that often lasted for hours.

Findings revealed further that this scenario has contributed to traffic hold-ups witnessed in the past along this axis particularly when these churches engaged in various programmes. For instance, ever since the RCCG relocated its famous Holy Ghost Congress to Redemption City within the Redemption Centre in the area, commuters along that axis have had various tales to tell of the horrific traffic snarls encountered during the churches various programmes.

During the churches programmes along this axis, hundreds of adherents often creates bottleneck with their private cars leading to standstill on the highway for hours. In such period, journey to Ibadan that ought to take just one hour from the Berger Bridge that  link Lagos with Ogun State has been known to take over eight hours to complete with much of the delay taking place between Lagos and kilometer 46 entrance of the RCCG  Redemption City.

Mrs Adeyemi Olawunmi, a native of Shagamu in Ogun State was travelling to her home town for preparation for the burial of her late father last year when one of the numerous churches along the Lagos-Ibadan expressway was having a programme. According to her, she spent nine hours between Berger Bridge and Ogere Bridge that leads to Shagamu. “On that day, I felt ashamed by the several comments made by the commuters in the bus about the churches around that place. One elderly woman who was in apparent pain due to the long stay in one position could not but curse the leadership of a particular church in the area accusing the leader of being responsible for that particular traffic chaos,” Mrs Olawunmi explained.

A member of RCCG who craved for anonymity said that his church and other churches in the vicinity within kilometer 46 on Lagos-Ibadan expressway, have taken various steps to reduce the impact of their activities to a manageable minimum.

But, he said the human factor, the deplorable state of the road, and other variables like the issue of tanker drivers who parked haphazardly along the highway often made nonsense of their efforts.  The RCCG member admitted that most times, the activities of the churches on this axis often act as catalyst for the intractable traffic situation along this road. However, he argued that it was not the role of private institutions to provide services that were the responsibility of government.  “The road and transport network are indisputably the responsibility of Nigerian government: the federal, state and local Government Areas,” he emphasised.

Meanwhile, leaders of these churches, Pastor Adejare Enock Adeboye of RCCG, Rev. William Folorunsho Kumuyi of Deeper Life Ministry and Dr. Kayode Olukoya of Mountains of Fire Ministry often defended themselves by pointing to federal government’s neglect of the highway and lack of other basic infrastructures as being the main reason for the traffic problems being experienced around kilometer 46 of the highway.

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