For those who are keen observers, traffic jam on Lagos roads has gone a notch higher since the turn of this year. The gridlock in most parts of the state sometime
s starts as early as 5.00 am in some areas of the city, persists for the most part of the day and lasts till late in the night.
The traffic jams are everywhere. From Agege Motor Road in the Oshodi axis, to Oba Akran Avenue and Mobolaji Johnson Road in Ikeja, to the ever busy Ikorodu Road, as well as the Third Mainland Bridge and other major roads on the Lagos Island. Things have been so bad. Commuters have been suffering, spending hours on the road, just to get to work in the morning, move around the city during the day or/and go home after the day’s work.
Some people consistently get home well past midnight on a daily basis, yet have to leave home as early as possible because of traffic and then go through the rough cycle the next day. Even for those who are tough, these have been really tough times.
I had a nasty experience of this Lagos traffic gridlock a couple of weeks back. I had an event to attend in Sango Ota, a border town between Ogun State and Lagos, that is just about 45 minutes away from the Lagos Mainland. Knowing that the programme was scheduled for around 11.00am, I left my office in Maryland about quarter to 10.00am. I had believed that with well over an hour for the journey, I should be able to get to the venue in time for the event. To hasten my movement, I boarded a bike from Maryland to Ikeja where I had parked my car, picked the car and set out for Sango.
The traffic jam on that day started right from Ikeja and it took me almost an hour to navigate out of the Ikeja traffic. Perhaps, I should have seen this as an ominous sign and prepare myself for what lay ahead. However, when I eventually escaped the Ikeja traffic and linked up with the Lagos Abeokuta Expressway, I heaved a sigh of relief, erroneously believing the worst was over. But little did I know that what I had just experienced in Ikeja was child’s play.
The gridlock on the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway was even more horrendous. There were long minutes of standstill in between intermittent snail-speed movement of hundreds of vehicles, moving in the usual bumper-to-fender style that has become a tradition on Lagos roads. I ran out of fuel due to the traffic and had to refuel. I did not get to the venue of my programme until 2.00 pm.
Aside from the frustration of getting late to the venue of the event, I was completely exhausted due to the punishing grind of a four-hour drive through the traffic jam – although I was a little consoled by the fact that I was still able to be part of the important segment of the event I went for.
The return journey was no less punishing. Some commuters who passed through the axis told me that’s what they go through daily. There is no alternative to the experience, you just have to grit your teeth and get on with it.
As I waded through the traffic, I imagined if someone with a health emergency had to pass through that axis to reach a hospital to be saved. Surely, only God could save such a person. Many citizens surely have passed on just because of such gridlocks, not because their condition couldn’t be helped, but because they were stuck in traffic.
I have been told that a major reason the traffic jam on Lagos roads has worsened in recent times is because the Lagos State government has embarked on reconstruction of several roads and other infrastructure at the same time. Surely, there is no gain without pain. But as much as these projects are important and sacrifices by the citizens necessary, it must be emphasised that these daily traffic gridlock are seriously affecting people’s health negatively.
This traffic jam is daily increasing the stress level of commuter’s health and predisposing many people to chronic stress which is a precursor to high blood pressure which has serious links to health conditions like heart diseases, diabetes and even some cancers. Several researches have confirmed these links.
While it is advisable for commuters to devise personal proactive measures to ensure they spend less time in traffic, the Lagos State government needs to urgently come up with ingenious palliative strategies to ease the Lagos traffic gridlocks and save citizens from long term health impairment. This government must know that the infrastructure being built are for the people and for them to enjoy it, they must be alive and healthy.