Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Ordeal on Ibadan Road

First armed robbers and now those in search of miracles make Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, the main artery to Nigeria's economic capital, hell for motorists

By Bayo Ogunmupe

TIME WAS WHEN LAGOSresidents travelled to and from Shagamu without much hassle. It might take a day or two to get through because of the bad conditions of the road. But then came the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. Sanity prevailed for sometime after the new road was commissioned.

Then came the armed robbers. Even then, the expressway was a big relief. But suddenly came the report that some deranged businessmen had taken to stealing the metal railings, which demarcated the dual carriageway. Some street lights disappeared. Later, villagers started selling bush meat, fruits, vegetables and drinks by the road side. Snack bars, petrol filling stations started springing up. Then, the churches came with redemption camps, mountains of fire, pilgrimage sites where lost souls looking for peace and prosperity go to receive miracles.

The Redeemed Christian Church of God sets aside the first Friday of every month for a night vigil at the Redemption Camp. The vigil usually lasts until Saturday morning.

At the beginning of these pilgrimages, sanity prevailed but not anymore. The Redemption Camp site on the Ibadan Expressway has become a “detention camp” for motorists.

Fasco Kusamotu, a retired bank executive went to look up his children in Ibadan with the intention of returning early enough to attend a wedding on June 8. He was trapped at the Redemption Camp for that day. “There were so many worshippers seeking relief from the church than the parking space could accommodate. The road was thereby jam-parked with cars that there was not enough space for us to pass to Ibadan or vice versa.”

On July 7, Michael Oladosu, a teacher travelled to Ibadan for a wedding scheduled for 10 a.m. He thought he was early when he left home at 6.00 a.m. He was wrong. He did not reach Ibadan until 7.00 p.m. that Saturday. Worse still, he travelled with the master of ceremony.

On the same day, a programme scheduled for TCC, Ogere at 9.00 a.m. could not hold because participants could not get through from Lagos even though they left home as early as 7.00 a.m. That was a journey that would have lasted only thirty minutes.

Also, there was the case of an ambulance rushing a dying patient to the UCH, Ibadan for medical attention. The patient died because the driver could not get through the traffic. Segun Osoba, governor of Ogun State, caught up in the traffic, abandoned his car.

The traffic jam started at the police-checkpoint before the Redemption Camp where the road was reduced to one lane. That encouraged commuters to multiply the lanes thereby causing a hold-up. According to Moses Otolorin, “from the checkpoint, we could not determine the road because of the multiple lanes. We later saw an exit through a village by the road and took it. The villagers quickly set up a toll-gate demanding fees which we paid gladly. It was total madness.”

Enoch Adeboye, general overseer of the church has warned worshippers to desist from parking their vehicles on the expressway. Despite parking spaces provided by the church, the chaotic traffic situation has become a major problem on the expressway.

Published in the Newswatch Magazine

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