Gridlock on Wednesday returned to the Longbridge axis of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, as Julius Berger resumed construction works on the road.
The ongoing repair of the road was suspended in December last year to enable travellers plying the route to enjoy hassle-free movement to their various destinations for the festive period.
The barricades on the road were also removed.
It was, however, observed that the construction firm started moving its utility trucks back to the OPIC end of the road on Wednesday, as it also placed some barriers to divide the road from OPIC towards Kara Bridge.
The diversion made traffic to start building up along the axis on Wednesday night.
The gridlock increased on Thursday morning, extending to the Longbridge.
A joint team of security operatives, including the police, military and the Federal Road Safety Corps, were sighted at the Arepo end of the road, as they prevented motorists from driving against traffic.
Our correspondents also observed a gradual hike in transport fares, as Berger to Magboro increased from N300 to N500, while those heading towards Mowe/Ibafo paid N800.
A motorist, Funke Adebambo, expressed worry over the return of the gridlock, saying it always affected her business.
She said, “The traffic affects me economically. I take this route almost every day to purchase goods in Lagos and back to Ogun State. This affected me the period the repair was going on last year. I only felt relief in December when they suspended the work. Now that they have resumed work, it will start affecting my movement again.”
A commuter, Tayo Oyewusi, complained about the huge transport fares.
A bus driver, Kunle Akanle, said the increase in transport costs was a result of the gridlock.
He said, “We have no choice but to increase the transport fares. The number of trips I covered before the traffic started has reduced. I now spend a long time in traffic. Even if we try to take alternative routes, my vehicle gets faulty because of the bad road.”
Our correspondents also noted intense physical and verbal altercations between some drivers and members of a transport union task force at the Berger Bus Stop, who were on the ground to ensure drivers did not take advantage of the situation.
The altercation worsened the plight of passengers, as the task force forcibly restricted passengers from boarding the danfo buses, insisting that the drivers complied with agreed fares.
A commercial transport operator, who gave his name only as Abiodun, said it was insensitive to expect drivers not to hike fares given the traffic caused by the road repairs.
He further threatened that commercial transport operators would boycott the route if the task force members did not refrain from harassing them.
A nursing mother, who gave her name as Rashidat, lamented the fare hike, while begging the drivers to show some consideration, as she could not afford the N800 charged by the operators.
She said, “They are saying Mowe is N800. Just yesterday, I paid N400. I didn’t carry any extra money on me. We have joined hands to beg these drivers and conductors, and even after these men (task force) have stopped them from loading passengers, they have refused to agree.”
Another passenger, who identified himself only as Chuks, blamed the government for over-indulging the construction company in its continued delay of the road project.
He said, “This is a major road. It is wrong to stay on this road rehabilitation for such a long time.”
The Ogun State Sector Commander of the Federal Road Safety Corps, Ahmed Umar, said efforts were ongoing to ensure smooth movement along the road.
He said, “We are doing our best professionally to ensure smooth mobility, while also interfacing with Julius Berger to expedite action on the ongoing work. We are also calling on motorists to exercise patience while approaching the construction area, obey speed limits, imbibe discipline and avoid route violations to help us manage the traffic better.”
The Director, Federal Ministry of Works, South-West, Adedamola Kuti, did not take his calls and had yet to respond to a text message on the development as of the time this report was filed. Punch