By Deji Lambo
Chaos broke out on Sunday on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway after the Julius Berger Nigeria Plc partially shut down Magboro and Warewa, Ogun State ends of the highway.
Thousands of travellers moving inwards Lagos State and those bound for Ogun State were trapped at the various bottlenecks.
For several hours, traffic was at a standstill.
While many motorists struggled to wriggle their way out of the logjam, officials of the Federal Road Safety Corps, whose office was at the MFM, Magboro end of the road, stood aloof.
The situation emboldened some commercial drivers and motorists to drive against traffic, which further compounded the gridlock.
Due to the traffic, some vehicles developed mechanical faults and broke down, further worsening the situation.
According to a correspondent observation, wearied commuters disembarked from their vehicles to board motorcycles, while others trekked.
Some motorists were seen making U-turns as they aborted their trips.
Motorists who favoured the untarred road beside the Longbridge were also trapped in the gridlock.
Our correspondent gathered that the gridlock, which lasted for many hours, started shortly after Julius Berger workers used a bulldozer to carry barricades to divert vehicular movements to a single lane between the Magboro and Warewa ends of the expressway.
Following this, vehicles inbound Lagos State, on getting to the Magboro area, were diverted to the lane which vehicles inbound Ogun State plied.
However, the influx of vehicles plying the narrow lane created gridlock that stretched to the Mowe and the Berger ends of the expressway.
An eyewitness, who identified himself only as Shola, said the diversion was done around 9am.
He said, “Between 9am and 10am, about three people who wore Julius Berger apron used a bulldozer to carry barricades to direct vehicles going inward Lagos State to the lane of vehicles going inward Ogun State. The gridlock started shortly after the blockage.”
A commuter, who gave his name only as Tolu, said he was stranded after the driver of the commercial bus he boarded aborted their trip, adding that he trekked for over one hour to get to his destination in Arepo.
He said, “From Berger, I boarded a bus going to Magboro. But when we got close to the Tribune Newspaper office around the Longbridge, the driver dropped all of us and returned our money because of the gridlock. I started trekking 4.10pm and from that point, I trekked to Arepo and got there around 5.10pm.
“A lot of people were stranded; many vehicles broke down. When I got to the PUNCH area, I noticed that vehicles going inward Lagos were passing the same route with vehicles going inward Mowe, Ibafo areas in Ogun. What I experienced today was horrific.”
Another commuter, who does not want to be identified in print, urged the construction workers to operate at midnight or create enough space for vehicles to ply in the daytime.
“We encountered the gridlock around Mowe and we spent three hours to get to Magboro. At one point, we were on a standstill for more than one hour until some policemen and soldiers intervened and vehicles started moving gradually. The suffering is too much and I have missed all my other appointments today,” he said.
A journalist, who asked not to be identified, said he drove into the gridlock on the Longbridge around 3pm.
“I got to my office at Magboro by 10pm. That is seven long hours in the traffic. What productive work can I do again?” he asked.
The Director, Highway South-West, Federal Ministry of Works, Adedamola Kuti, said the diversion would last between four and six days.
He said, “The diversion is part of our programme of work and people should not blame Julius Berger; it is in preparation for work on the Lagos bound axis. We have a stretch around there that we have not done the wearing cost. So, we need to do the wearing cost and it is something that will take like four to six days.
“Once we do our work, everything will be over. We are not shutting down Lagos-Ibadan Expressway; we are only diverting traffic and our people should exercise patience and nobody should drive against traffic.”
The Federal Controller of Works in Lagos, Mr Olukayode Popoola, in a statement on Sunday, said the diversion would speed up work on the road construction.
He said it would also enable Julius Berger to lay asphalt between Arepo and Warewa, a distance of one and half kilometres.
Popoola noted that the traffic diversion would be on the Lagos-bound carriageway.
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