Mother of all gridlocks

Hell as multiple crashes lock down Lagos roads
By Tope Templer Olaiya, Assistant Lagos City Editor and Abdulwaheed Usamah

Stranded motorists in Lagos today (June 6, 2013)

Stranded motorists in Lagos today (June 6, 2013)

IT was like an apocalyptic scene yesterday on the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway after a ghastly accident, which occurred between Ikeja Along and Ile-Zik bus-stop locked down the heart of Lagos for many hours and left thousands of Lagosians stranded.
At least, two people lost their lives on the ever-busy Lagos Abeokuta Expressway when a trailer carrying a container crushed the driver of Eko Meat Van and his aide to death.
Eyewitness said six other injured victims were immediately taken to the hospital for treatment.
An eyewitness, who simply gave his name as Samuel, said the truck conveying a 20-feet container rammed into the Eko meat van when some policemen attached to the Rapid Respond Squad were chasing a commercial motorcycle plying the proscribed highway.
“I think the driver of the truck did not want to kill the Okada man. As he struggled to avoid running into the meat van, he lost control, swerved to the pavement and fell on the meat van. The driver and his assistant died on the spot,” he said.

Scene of the accident

Scene of the accident

Speaking on the incident, the Deputy Commissioner of Police Operations, Lagos, Mr. Tunde Shobulo, said he was not briefed that his men were chasing the Okada rider when the accident occurred.
His account of what happened was, however, different. According to him, the van was driving against traffic and crashed into the oncoming truck whose driver lost control, given the heavy load it was carrying.
The accident brought traffic to a standstill around Ikeja, Iyana Ipaja, Agege and Oshodi. According to other eyewitnesses, the collision involving three vehicles, including a fully loaded articulated truck, was caused by an Okada rider, who was trying to evade arrest from policemen at the scene of the accident. One of them told The Guardian that the policemen sped away immediately it happened in a white RRS Hilux with the inscription number 333.
For over seven hours, it was a hellish experience for motorists with the eight-lane expressway blocked on both lanes. 18-wheelers, fuel tankers and sedans, wedged bumper-to-bumper in both directions.
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Curses and horn blasts pierced the exhaust-choked air. Brakes screeched as vehicles inched forward and cars rocked violently back and front at little intervals of movement.
It was the mother of all gridlocks, a spiraling effect, which left all the bus-stops along the route crowded with thousands of commuters, while stranded passengers decided to help themselves on foot by trekking long distances to their destination.
With the restriction on activities of motorcycles on the highways, which effectively banned Okada on the route, the only alternative left for commuters, which was to ply the trains, was also hitched, as the rail line passing through Ile-Zik was obstructed by the accident. This also shut down the trains from operating for most part of yesterday.
While the incident at the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway hampered movement in and around Ikeja, a string of multiple accidents in other parts of Lagos led to an emergency situation on almost all major roads in the state.

Stranded commuters at the bus stop

Stranded commuters at the bus stop

An accident involving a truck at Magboro junction going towards Ibafo on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway caused heavy traffic on the busy highway, which stretched to Arepo and Berger on both sides of the express. Also, another accident occurred at Ijora Olopa under bridge that locked down traffic along the axis.
It wasn’t until 4pm when a crane was used to remove the fallen truck that traffic eased at the Ile-Zik bus-stop, but the respite was only for a while on the Lagos-Abeokuta expressway as the daily traffic buildup of motorists returning from work heightened the gridlock, which extended to Agege-Mushin motor-road.

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Living In Lagos Without Stress

By Tope Templer Olaiya,
Assistant Lagos-City Editor

THIS IS LAGOS: Chaotic scene at Lagos-Abeokuta expressway

THIS IS LAGOS: Chaotic scene at Lagos-Abeokuta expressway


LIVING in Lagos can be as stressful as living in a war zone; the weather is constantly humid, traffic is hellish, living conditions are horrid, the government doesn’t give a shit, and in the last few days, Lagosians might have had a taste of what hell jmay look like with the midday intense heat.

For most residents, it couldn’t have been worse with last year’s ban on commercial motorcyclists, popularly known as Okada, from plying some roads in the state.

The enforcement of the ban, which began in October, turned violent when okada operators took to the streets to protest indiscriminate arrest of their members and subsequent seizure of their motorcycles. They, in the process, destroyed public facilities, including BRT buses.

This, however, angered the state government, warranting a heavy clampdown on the defaulters by policemen, even on inner-city streets, not included in the official restriction notice. All these have made life miserable for Lagosians. At every bus-stop, commuters are seen stranded, while some were left with no option than to take a long trek to their destinations.

Even car owners are not spared. The ban has witnessed an increase in the number of vehicles on the roads, as those who rarely use their cars, for fear of being held up in traffic and missing business engagements, have no option than to put their cars on the road and spend hours in traffic.

The worries do not end there, as every person behind the wheels are weary of policemen and other law enforcement agents in several shades of uniforms, prowling the streets to enforce the Lagos Traffic Law, which among other regulations, banned eating while driving, making phone calls, and driving against the traffic, with many of the one-way streets unmarked.

All these are enough to stress out even the calmest soul, and sometimes most people who are stressed out don’t even know it until it’s too late. No wonder then CNN’s Christiane Amanpour called Lagos the third unlivable city in the world after Harare in Zimbabwe and Dhaka in Bangladesh.

Chaotic Lagos traffic

Chaotic Lagos traffic


According to health experts, constant stress puts one’s health at risk. If the mind and body are constantly on edge because of excessive stress, one may face serious health problems. But it is an irony of sorts that the city of Lagos, which prides itself as the centre of excellence and commercial capital of Nigeria, still attracts visitors in their hundreds daily.

A stress expert, Dr. Noble Oguguo, however, disagrees that living in Lagos induces a special kind of stress on any individual. In his words, “it is a function of mindset. The same environment that poses a challenge to an individual could well be an opportunity to another because a lot depends on the individual’s disposition. What is a problem for one person could be turned to an opportunity for another.”

He noted that the environment generally throws up challenges, whether in the city or in a village, but a lot depends on the coping skills of the individual. “The basic difference between an individual with good coping skills and the other with poor coping skills is the disposition of the mind and the understanding of the context and content of the challenges thrown up by the environment.

“In the journey through life, the environment throws challenges at us and make demands on us. The inability to meet up with the challenge and the individual caves in under pressure is what exposes him to distress. On the other hand, the demand on an individual that will make him mobilize resources – time, talent, treasure, skill, good health, intelligence, conceptual ability, family and social network – to confront the challenge successfully is Eustress.”

Oguguo, author of Executive Stress Management: A Strategic Approach To Stress Without Distress, listed the causes of stress to include self (health, debt, low self-esteem), family, work, unrealistic targets and inability to meet expectations, while the health problems of stress are high-blood pressure, damage to blood vessels, heart attack, diabetes and poor performance.

ON some coping strategies, the stress expert advised people to avoid unnecessary stressors like learning to say no, expressing feelings instead of bottling them up, accepting the things one cannot change, be willing to compromise, making time for fun and relaxation and adopting a healthy lifestyle.

“People often ask me how they can maintain a healthy lifestyle and I say it’s simple: exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet, reduce caffeine and sugar, avoid alcohol, cigarettes and drugs, and get enough sleep,” he said.

Oguguo can be reached on hospbizmgners@yahoo.com

The Familiar Story Of Christmas Hassles

By Tope Templer OLAIYA

Christmas is here and the frenzies of the season are being felt all around. When we think about Christmas, we see so many pictures of laughing children, ear-piercing firelight, Santa Claus visits and gently falling snow. However, for a great many families, this romantic view of the season is very different from reality.
The holiday season, for many people, is the hardest time of the year, in part, because of the glaring contrast between their experience and the romanticised image of Christmas so often projected.
For millions of families, their struggles to put enough food on the table, pay utility bills are mocked by commercials urging them to buy more and more expensive gifts.
The working mother, whose energy barely seems enough for the demands of the rest of the year, grows increasingly frazzled as she tries to produce all those little extras that are expected of every good mother at Christmas time.
This was the agonising tale of Mrs. Bose Tajudeen, a trader, who had visited Idumota market in Lagos Island to shop for the season. After spending over N70,000 to replenish her stock and the family shopping list, Bose made to exit the market and pondered the long trek to the bus-stop where she would board a bus.
Already exhausted and with the absence of motorcycles due to the ban on their operations in Lagos Island, she engaged two young men to help lift her goods while she strolled behind them. After walking a distance, she lost sight of the men and frantic search to pick them out from the pool of the crowd ended negative, which left the mother of four berserk and wailing on the floor.

Chaotic Lagos traffic

Chaotic Lagos traffic

This is just one of the flags of the hassles of Christmas typified by traffic jams, petty thieving, high cost of goods and transport, and low patronage. However, the scarcity of petroleum products, which is a hallmark of festive periods in the country, has been surprisingly absent.
Without the long queues at filling stations, Christmas can still be full of hassles. Since the last two weeks, the city of Lagos has been a theatre of the absurd with logjams crisscrossing major roads across the state and the best way to test one’s resilience is to navigate Lagos during this period.
It was like an apocalyptic scene last Wednesday on the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway with six lanes of buses, 18-wheelers, fuel tankers and sedans, wedged bumper-to-bumper in both directions at Apapa. Curses and horn blasts pierced the diesel exhaust-choked air. Brakes screeched as vehicles inched forward and cars rocked violently back and front, with crowbar-wielding thieves prowling the traffic jam, waiting to prey on captive motorists on the gateway to the nation’s two busiest seaports – Apapa and Tin Can Island; and home to what may be the worst chronic gridlock in the world.
The Yuletide may not totally be blamed for the logjam, as some metres away, the highway abruptly disintegrated into a moonscape of deep potholes and eroded asphalt, where three lanes squeezed into one and a flatbed truck carrying a 40-foot-long container laid on its side.

Last minute shoppers before Christmas

Last minute shoppers before Christmas

AS the long weekend of festivities begins, market men and women have complained of low patronage of their goods and products. The traders, mostly attributed the development to the poor economic situation in the country. A trader at Mile 12 market, Mrs. Florence Olaleye, said buyers’ attitude was not encouraging compared to last year. She, however, appealed to government to pay workers’ salaries on time so as to feel the impact of the festivity.
Dealers in textile and allied materials at the Balogun market have also complained of low patronage in spite of preparation for Christmas and New Year festivities. They blamed the low sales on the invasion of the market by Chinese traders. They, therefore, appealed to the Federal Government to introduce measures to enhance the quality of Nigerian-made products.
Mrs. Azeez Kuburat, who deals in textile materials popularly known as Aso-oke, said the cloth, which is indigenous to Nigerians, is now being manufactured by Chinese. “It is a shame that Chinese produce better quality and varieties of aso-oke. They claimed they get aids from their home government. We still use crude methods to weave and we need to upgrade our technology to be able to protect our cultural heritage,” she said.
Mrs. Min Zue, a Chinese trader, attributed this to the superior quality of Chinese products and their lower prices. She said Nigerians like cheap things and if there was a little slash in price that was favourable to them, Nigerians were most likely to jump at it. “We make new things everyday. So, if you come to our shop, you will see something new for good prices.”
The lamentation of low patronage is also being expressed by transporters few days to Christmas. The parks are empty with very few people travelling. Some drivers at Ojota Motor Park said the patronage was low compared to what it used to be in previous years. They claimed the increased fare was not because of the season but rather bad roads.

"Lagosians

While one may feel strongly about the hassle of Christmas – costing too much in money, time and stress trying to get things done for a befitting yearend celebration, incidentally the very first Christmas was a hassle for Joseph and Mary; the first being Mary’s pregnancy!
Joseph and Mary were engaged but not officially married when Mary learned she “was with child by the Holy Spirit”. Joseph was ready to call the whole thing off until an angel explained the situation. But the hassles are just beginning.
Not long after the wedding, the Emperor determined that every Jewish male should return to his birthplace and pay a new tax, a bill Joseph hadn’t planned on and a trip he hadn’t planned to make. They head out for Bethlehem where they met another hassle; there was no room in the inn. With his wife about to give birth, Joseph settles for the only available accommodation – a stable!
And just when they thought everything was over with, an angel brings a message to Joseph, to take Mary and the baby to Egypt, because King Herod was going to try to murder the baby.
The nativity story sure makes the hassles of Christmas a familiar story.