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Finding lasting solution to Lagos-Ibadan gridlock

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Making more motorable the constricted portion on Kara Bridge, inward Lagos, could end the traffic gridlock being experienced on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. Transportation Specialist ADEOLU DINA proffers a solution that could rid the road of gridlock as the project, expected to be delivered by December, enters its final lap.

Road rehabilitation and reconstruction is a reoccurring activity in human space, where such infrastructure has deteriorated. Either way, the two challenges often result in poor processing of vehicular traffic, resulting in a traffic hold-up.

Today, monitoring and deploying solutions to traffic-related challenges is now exclusively domiciled with transport planners, a specialised profession that is only recently recognised in Nigeria’s public service.

The disruptive effect of road rehabilitation and reconstruction on traffic can be enormous and traumatic, especially when such roads process heavy volume of vehicles. Such roads, to this end, require careful planning to minimise delays and the high cost associated with congestion. These costs, quantifiable and otherwise, often manifest in the form of loss of man-hours, stress on road users, higher fuel consumption, and heavy pollution, among others.

It is in light of the foregoing that stakeholders are often required to share expertise and experience in preventing or resolving problems associated with traffic flow. As an academic, one, therefore, constrained to proffer as a form of community service, expertise, to find a lasting solution to the gridlock in the Kara area inward Lagos on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.

The suggested solutions could be further applied to other road works having existing traffic flow within the state and in the country.

The 127-kilometre Lagos-Ibadan Expressway is, perhaps, Nigeria’s oldest expressway. It was inaugurated in 1978 by the Olusegun Obasanjo-led military administration. The road was built to facilitate the movement of vehicular traffic in large volumes between Lagos and other regions of Nigeria.

Individuals in their late 50s and above who drove on this road in their early years have shared common tale of driving from the old toll gate in Lagos (around the 7Up area) to the Ibadan toll gate in 45 minutes.

Arising from the phenomenal growth of Lagos, the lack of alternative routing and travel modes into the state, the design capacity for the road had for long been exceeded, so much as the life span of the road infrastructure as of 1999.

Furthermore, new towns have also emerged along the stretch of expressway occasioned by the Lagos sprawl. This further complicated the vehicular traffic demand placed on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway in recent decades.

A significant reduction in the average vehicular speed had for long been experienced together with increased vehicular density on the road. The occurrence of intermittent illegal bus stops and illegal pedestrian crossings that sprouted over time between the Lagos and Sagamu section of the road was not part of the original design. In other words, 20 years after its construction, this roadway had by far exceeded its designed capacity for its traffic as originally designed.

From 2000, it had become very pertinent for the road infrastructure to be upgraded for it to function in line with the new demands placed on it.

It is noteworthy that the effort to reconstruct the expressway was first initiated under the civil administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo as a Build Operate Transfer (BoT) Scheme with an elaborate 10-lane expressway design. This contract was later re-awarded and the Jonathan administration kicked off its reconstruction in July 2013.

Since the commencement of the reconstruction, commuters and travelers using the road have suffered untold hardship due to intermittent diversions by the contractor. However, the most intense traffic snarl resulting from these diversions was more intense between Sagamu and Lagos sections of the road. As the construction winds down, the recent and the last set of diversions created around the Kara Bridge by the contractor have resonated with the previous hardship encountered on the road.

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