By Ken Adejumoh
Few years ago when the first phase of the Lekki-Epe Expressway was completed, it was a huge sigh of relief for residents and it marked a new dawn for road users who had suffered years of wait for the completion of the project.
At that time, apart from Third Mainland Bridge (3MB), the express became one of the finest roads in Lagos with the solid multi-lane carriageways, world class bus stops, traffic lights, road signage and the aesthetic toll plazas. Without any doubt, commuting experience on the road improved because it was a far cry from what it used to be.
The long term project which was commissioned for construction in 1983 by the then Governor of Lagos State, Alhaji Lateef Jakande was conscientiously pursued by subsequent administrations. The expressway serves as the principal arterial road connecting the Lekki-Epe axis to the rest of Lagos.
The expressway is the gateway to Lekki Free Trade Zones (LFTZ), the future of the city as a commercial hub. On daily basis, Lekki-Epe express is undergoing rapid industrial and commercial growth arising from the commencement of developmental projects such as oil refinery, air and sea ports as well as citing of various industries within the area.
Apart from the industrial factor, the entire area includes residential accommodation, business centres, a financial hub and tourism activities. Upon completion, the zone will serve as a springboard to launch the Lekki-Epe axis, and the entire North-Eastern Lagos into a business and commercial hub of the African continent.
Few years down the line, the multi-lane carriageways have suddenly become over populated as a result of geometric progression of humans leading to the influx of more vehicles. The entire expressway from Lekki to Ajah for instance, which should ordinarily take 20 to 30 minutes’ drive has left residents unhappy as productive man hours are spent on that stretch on daily basis.
The excruciating traffic has no particular time except for early risers who enjoy free flow but once it’s any minute past 6 o’clock, one is sure going to have an unpleasant morning. The Lekki-Ajah traffic is noted for its infamy. Usually some other residents of Lagos could have mild traffic with rare exceptions that could be known as ‘bad day’ but residents of Lekki-Ajah are at liberty to say everyday of traffic is ‘bad’.
The implication of the back-to-back traffic is that more vehicles are on the road. It then goes to show that during the time of planning, no one envisioned that growth and expansion would happen so soon. The road which was initially constructed to accommodate about 30,000 vehicles per day has now increased to over 50,000 vehicles daily. This is the sole cause of the minute by minute traffic gridlock.
One interesting thing I have observed is the fact that each government tries to see how the problem can be ameliorated. Currently on-going is the decommissioning of three out of the nine larger-than-life roundabouts. Among these three are the fourth roundabout (Elegushi); fifth roundabout (Jakande), and the eighth roundabout (VGC), which would be replace with traffic lights to minimise traffic congestion on the road. Not forgetting the mother of all, the construction of a four-lane overhead bridge at Ajah.
While this is laudable, I still have the fear that it might just seem to be another temporary solution because of the overall land mark projects that are springing up around the Free Trade Zone. The better solution for me is the possibility of an isolated super multi-lane carriageway. A case study is the Autobahn no speed limit express way in Germany.
Though I understand the huge financial implication but there are a number of alternatives route the government could channel resources to make them more motorable. A good example is the route that runs from Oniru through Elegushi water front. Other inner access routes which are in use are the 2.1 kilometres’ Admiralty alternative road and 2.7kilometres’ Freedom road. A close survey could possibly discover more inner access roads that will help to reduce the traffic currently experienced on the expressway. All these put together will eliminate the nightmare of traffic especially at close of business.
My experience in plying the Oniru/Elegushi alternative route shows that residents of Goshen Estate, Jakande Estate and Egbo Efon would have no business patronising the express because the route will take them straight into their streets. This will further cut down the traffic and we would have a better flow on the expressway.
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