Commuters in the Lagos metropolis have been experiencing tougher times as transporters cash in on scarcity of premium motor spirit (petrol) and the consequent long queues at filling stations to jack up fares.
The transportation problem is compounded by the unending rains, which have flooded many roads, and construction works that the Lagos State government is executing here and there, which are hindering smooth vehicular movement.
The result of both developments over the past two weeks is an ugly sight of gridlock everywhere, which keeps motorists and commuters in traffic agony for many hours.
From the Berger, Ogba, Agidingbi, Ikeja GRA and Computer Village axis, to Apapa, Ikorodu, Lekki-Ajah stretch and the Orile-Mile 2-Badagry expressway, commuting has become hellish as commercial buses, and even cabs, get more scarce and, where available, the fares have skyrocketed.
Many of the buses and taxis that should be operating are most of the time on queues at filling stations seeking to buy fuel, or caught up in traffic hold-up. The hitherto ready alternative of the commercial motorcycle (okada) has come under the state government ban hammer in most parts of the metropolis, and commuters are resigned to using only the buses, or commercial tricycles, whose riders do not operate long distances and cannot operate on flooded roads.
With these problems of fuel scarcity and traffic hold-up everywhere, commercial bus drivers cannot but increase their fares, as is their wont. Fares on some short routes, which were N100 and N200 before the fuel scarcity and rain problems, have gone up to N200-N300 and N300-N500 respectively. Whenever it rains heavily, the hike gets higher. For instance, the yellow painted commercial bus operators will jack, at such moments, the Ikeja to Ojuelegba trip fare from N300 to N500-N700, depending on how ‘magnanimous’ the driver is.
Construction projects are being undertaken virtually everywhere. For instance, driving on major roads at Ikeja Along, Yaba and Oyingbo, areas with mass commuting, have been affected by intense construction works for the state government’s red rail line project, giving users of those roads a daily dose of traffic problem.
The Ikeja red rail line construction work extends to the Computer Village end of the Obafemi Awolowo Road, which has been partially cordoned off, forcing commuters and motorists to use other not-too-convenient alternatives.
Also, the short but important Chemiron road, which links Acme and Wempco roads, has been cordoned off for an engineering work being done there. The result is that vehicles that should use that short road to easily link their destinations now have to go through tortuous, traffic-riddled diversions.
There is also the construction work on the 7up-Otedola bridge leading into the Lagos Ibadan expressway.
Okesanya Ibitola was very bitter when The ICIR met her at Ojota in the rains last Friday. She had just lost a job opportunity due to the unavailability of buses.
Ibitola said, “There is a job I have been stressing myself for since morning. We had started the process since Monday and this is the last day. I left home at 7am to where I wanted to do the final exam. But I was seriously held up in traffic. Before I got there, they had finished the exam.
“I was just tired, but wetin man go do? Ketu to Ojota goes for N200. We waited for the bus and did not see it. I was there till after 9am.”
Adeniran Ogundipe was worried that the rains would attract raise in transportation fare.
Ogundipe said, “My brother, there is no fuel. There is no okada. As I am here, I am going to Ikorodu. I will spend not less than N1,500 to N2,000 to where I am going. Before now, I would spend only about N500, but now, there is no fuel.
“We are going through a lot in this country. I have a car, it is at home but there is no fuel. Many filling stations are selling a litre at N200-N250 per litre.”
Ogundipe was right. While fuel may not be officially N200 per litre in Lagos, some filling stations are selling the product at N200 and above per litre.
A barber residing at Akiode bus stop, in the Omole Estate axis, expressed his agony on the hike in pump price. He admitted that only Bovas filling station, along the Ojudu-Berger road, was selling fuel at N165 per litre.
Already oil marketers are proposing a strike after the Salah break, alleging that they are yet to receive their balance from the Federal government regarding the outstanding payment of bridging claims they incurred on the transportation of petroleum products across the country.
The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) has threatened that the fuel scarcity situation would become worse from Wednesday.
But the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) has assured consumers that the fuel queues in Abuja and Lagos would vanish before then, stating that issues around supply disruptions had been resolved.
The Group Chief Executive Officer, NNPC Ltd, Mele Kyari, giving the assurance in an interview with Arise News on Sunday, July 10, 2022, was optimistic that the queues would soon disappear.
Kyari said, “First of all, there are issues around supply disruptions. These we are overcoming. We have resolved them and in the next three to four days, people will see relief and fuel queues will vanish.
“As we all know, there are no fuel queues in most parts of the country, except in Lagos and Abuja, and we understand the real logistics issues.
“There is no question around PMS price; the president has authorized his discretion and the right decision to increase the cost of transporting fuel by N10. That means transporters will be able to take products from any depot to the furthest fuel station without any delay.”
The Lagos State government said it was making efforts to address the agony commuters are experiencing on roads. The Special Adviser to the Governor on Works and Infrastructure, Engineer Aramide Adeyoye, has flagged off an initiative known as ‘zero tolerance for potholes’ campaign.
The campaign aims at reversing road failures that resurfaced due to the erosion of asphalt on some roads at the start of the rainy season.
The Commissioner for Transportation, Lagos State, Dr Frederic Oladeinde, in an exclusive telephone interview with our correspondent, offered explanations for the simultaneous construction projects.
Oladeinde said, “There is a lot of construction going on in the state at the moment. There is one at Otedola and also close to Kara, at the ramp. Some of these constructions have been going on for a while. But we have our men from the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) manning the traffic. Some road users have attacked our men out of frustration, but we want to appeal to the general public to remain calm and bear with us at this period. It is a bit painful, but it is to provide us with better infrastructure.”
He explained that it was not all the projects being done in Lagos that were projects by the state government. He said the Federal government was involved in some of the projects, and refusing to let the constructions go on would result in infrastructure wastage, knowing that money had already been assigned to the completion of the projects.
“There are some road projects done or being done by the Federal government, under the Sukuk funding arrangement. Whenever they come up, we can’t disallow them, or else they may never perfect those roads. So we let them come in whenever the money is approved and run the project. We support by churning out traffic plans,” he explained.
On March 31, 2022, the state government had predicted a high-intensity annual rainfall volume of 1,750mm in 2022, with attendant socio-economic implications.
The Commissioner for the Environment and Water Resources, Tunji Bello, and the Special Adviser to the Governor on Drainage and Water Resources, Joe Igbokwe, announced this while making the 2022 Seasonal Climate Predictions in Lagos.
Arising from the announcement, an online site, Climateaction has advised safe and on-time evacuation, knowledge of weather reports and being extra-cautious as ways out of the situation.
There are some parts of this Lagos that during raining season, you should consider buying a small boat that can fit in your car trunk 😑😑 because 🥺🥺
| Deco | Flood | Broja | Nunez | Barkley | Last Last | Suarez| Surulere | Magodo| pic.twitter.com/9J8e74Emm6
— AkAb👑Bola (@mc_akab) July 9, 2022
Also, the Permanent Secretary of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), Dr Oluwafemi Oke-Osanyintolu, has appealed to community leaders to spend the ongoing public holidays to carry out some remedial clearing of blocked drainages in their respective locations.
Oke-Osanyintolu seized the occasion to release mobile emergency lines to aid trapped Lagosians in flash floods
His statement read, “The agency has been responding to distress calls throughout Lagos with reports on flooding and flood damage in affected areas.
“We wish to reassure the good people of Lagos that we are on standby via our emergency lines 112/767 to respond.
“We are also urging Lagosians to avoid non-essential travel in areas that are most affected by flooding. Parents and guardians are to keep their children and wards warm and dry to avoid secondary illnesses.”
Today I visited a relative and I experienced what my eyes can’t describe.
There was heavy flood in the so- called mega city called Lagos they claim @officialABAT is the architect of.
The residents confirmed to me that this flooding and drainage issues has been on for decades now. pic.twitter.com/gJBzMKzHwM
— Oj_combatant🇳🇬 (@ruggedcombatant) July 9, 2022
Oladeinde urged the generality of the public not to use the inclement traffic situation to create unnecessary traffic snarl by driving the wrong way, or what is called one-way in the Nigerian parlance.
“We want everyone to patiently go through this,” he stated.
He added that more first and last-mile buses – small, blue-and-white painted buses that the state government purchased for sale to commercial bus drivers – had been released to the public, to ameliorate the transportation difficulties in the state.
The commissioner reiterated the state’s commitment to improving Lagos bus services by providing cheap, seamless and affordable transportation modes.