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by Tola Adenle

With news of the traffic that paralyzed the usual really worst part of the Lagos/Ibadan so-called “express” road last weekend, one wonders what catastrophe would have to happen to wake the government up.  News of Soyinka and two governors caught in the traffic were splashed in most newspapers over the past weekend and here’s the link to The Nation’s report:  http://www.thenationonlineng.net/2011/index.php/news/30976-soyinka-amosun-amaechi-stranded-on-lagos-ibadan-expressway.html

I’m surprised both Governors Amaechi and Amosun did not device ways of getting out of the usual mess as often happens but generally with presidents and governors never having to suffer the harrowing hardships of Armageddon-type traffic chaos while in office, it would have to take close family members of a sitting president getting into serious physical health issue as a result of the problem – pardon me – before something is finally done about it.

The road, like most common wealth, is already concessioned to a company that seems not in any hurry to spend money before harvest time starts with the construction of toll booths.

There is hardly anybody who travels the road who has not been caught in the gridlock that happens all the time at least once, and for those who have to travel it a lot for business or for family engagements, it’s become routine.  Time was when you could travel the less-than-100-miles between Ibadan and Lagos in under two hours; not any more.

It started with the Redeemed Church (RCCG) and others setting up prayer camps along the road in the 90s.  Once every month when the RCCG holds its “Holy Ghost Night”, the devil descends on what has become a sort of road to hell.  As it always happens when things are bad in Nigeria, “better” is not a next stage but “worse”.

The troublesome points on the road have multiplied, with the Ogun old toll point becoming a close second to the RCCG hell-on-earth point.  There, 18-wheelers, trucks of all sizes most of which supposedly belong to one of the lords and masters of Nigeria, whizkid/businessman, Alhaji Dangote and hawkers combine to make the area impassable.  At one point when former Governor Gbenga Daniel reportedly asked the trucks to move from the double-parking that makes the road easily susceptible to traffic mayhems, the drivers – mostly Northerners – reportedly refused to move.  Worse, they blockaded the road by driving trucks across the roads.  There’s a lot of ethnic tension in the country and one can therefore never really know what ethnocentricity lies beneath stories but I did hear that Gbenga Daniel had to capitulate because the “Hausas” would never obey such rules.

It’s worth noting here that Alhaji Dangote who was recently decorated with the CFR which is next to what presidents award to themselves and other past presidents, should recognize that his citations for being a great business calls for civic-mindedness.

After going through the hellish traffic that originated at Rev. Adeboye’s RCCG and the NASFAT camp some years ago, I wrote an essay for The Comet on Sunday, an essay that was recently reproduced here:  http://emotanafricana.com/2011/07/25/its-a-mad-mad-world/.

Since the road is the main artery that links not only the beginning of the South with the North but also the busiest vehicular segment of any road in Nigeria, it is time government pays attention to this Road from Hell.