Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Lagosians trek as okada ban, fuel scarcity bite harder

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With the restriction of okada on some routes and the worsening fuel scarcity in Lagos State, many Lagosians who were stranded trekked to their destinations on Wednesday.
Also, motorists were held up for hours following gridlock on most major roads. Lagos-Ibadan Expressway towards Seven-Up, Yaba, Iyana Ipaja, Ikorodu Road,
Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway, Oba Akran Avenue, Oba Ogunnusi Road in Ogba among others witnessed traffic snarl.
Findings by our correspondents showed that the gridlock was as a result of motorists struggling to buy fuel at some filling stations, ban on okada in some routes and Sallah rush.
At Oando filling station, Oba Akinjobi Way, Ikeja and at Total filling station in Ojota, where fuel was being dispensed, the queues took over a large part of the road causing gridlock.
Some motorists and commuters, who spoke with our correspondents, also attributed the situation to the Lagos State Government new traffic laws.
They said the policy was not well thought out because it had only imposed hardship on the people.
“I really don’t know the purpose of a law. Is it to make the people suffer or to provide relief? a woman, who gave her name as Janet, said in Ogba.
Janet said she usually took okada as buses do not ply her route.
A motorist, Emmanuel Achubi, told one of our correspondents, that he had to call his office that he would be late for work after being held in traffic for about two hours on the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway.
Another road user, Niyi Onanubi, said, “Higher fares, stranded commuters; these are what you get when a few people think they know what’s best for 18 million others.”
A university teacher, who declined to give his name, said the traffic snarl could be partly blamed on the forthcoming Sallah festival.
“I could not get to any office today (Wednesday) because of the gridlock. Apart from the fuel scarcity and ban on commercial motorcyclists, I think Sallah rush contributed to what people experienced on the roads,” he said.
Commercial bus drivers cashed in on the situation to hike their fares from between 50 to 100 per cent.
The transport fare for Ikeja-Yaba route increased from N120 to N200 while Ketu-Ikorodu was hiked from N100 to N200.
A Bar Beach-bound passenger, who identified himself simply as Cosmas, lamented the traffic situation in the state.
Cosmas said, “From CMS to Bar Beach/Eko Hotels, we used to pay N100 but now, drivers have increased it by 100 per cent. The most worrisome is that as short as the distance is, it will take you close to one and a half hours to get there because of gridlock.
Okadas, which used to help us in such a situation, have been chased away. Government must rescind its decision in the interest of the people. We are suffering seriously and the situation cannot continue like this.”
A commuter, Jide Adeyemi, said the ban on okada had increased the number of people commuting by bus.
“Apart from the transport fare being too exorbitant the buses are not even available. I have been standing here waiting for a bus to convey me to my place of business for about an hour with no success,” he said.
But a commercial driver, John Sogo, said the hike in fares was as a result of petrol scarcity.
He said, “It’s not our fault. I woke up as early as 5am today (Wednesday) in search of fuel today and on getting to my turn after queuing up for hours, they told me that they had ran out of supply.
“I eventually bought 10 litres for N2, 000 from black marketers. In all fairness, we are left with no choice but to adjust the fares we charge.”
There was also much pressure on the Bus Rapid Transit services as passengers cramped onto the buses. Many would-be commuters were seen in long queues awaiting BRT buses. Punch

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