Motorists plying the Agege and Ikeja areas of Lagos through Ashade Market, Akanni Doherty, and Oba Akran Avenue and residents of the areas have lamented the closure of the railway level crossing at the Ashade Market area by the Nigerian Railway Corporation.
The road from the Ashade level crossing through Akanni Doherty and Guinness Nigeria Plc to Oba Akran Avenue was shut by the NRC shortly after a train derailed in the area on January 10, 2019.
It was reported that the train coming from Ijoko in Ogun State, and headed for Apapa in Lagos State, had derailed at the Mangoro/Agege area, leaving one person dead and several people injured.
The train, which skidded off its track around 7 am, had three of its coaches affected as a result of the faulty track.
Our correspondent observed gridlock in the area as a result of the closure of the level crossing leading to Akanni Doherty Street on Wednesday.
Motorists and residents, who spoke to our correspondent, lamented the hardship they were facing as a result of the closure of the level crossing.
A commercial bus driver, Femi Ajayi, who decried the road closure, described it as “hardship of the highest order,” adding that he now spends more hours in traffic than before.
Ajayi stated, “We want the NRC to reopen this level crossing because the hardship is too much; where we ought to spend few minutes when we pass through the level crossing, we now have to spend hours in traffic to pass through other routes.
“Because we spend more hours in traffic, we don’t have a choice but to increase the transport fares and this is making our passengers complain.”
Another motorist, Pepi Oluomo, said, “Nobody is happy with the way this road is blocked, because it is causing traffic. From National down to Dopemu, there are potholes on the road, which is one of the major causes of traffic; we now have more vehicles plying the road.
“We are not happy that we are unable to pass through the level crossing to Guinness; people have to drop at Ashade and board tricycles to Ikeja; and when we asked the people in charge, they told us that the road would be fixed after the elections.
“Because of this closure, there is always traffic at AP and Ikeja Along; we want the NRC to find a way of solving this problem. Our passengers are complaining about the increase in transport fares, which is not our fault; we too are not happy that we have to increase the fares.
“We want the government or whoever that is in charge to reopen the road and make everybody comfortable. They should fill all the potholes on the road.”
A tricycle rider plying the Dopemu area of the state, Opeyemi Tunji, noted that the closure of the road had led some motorists to drive against traffic, which according to him, poses a risk to their lives.
He said, “We were told that the NRC wanted to repair the road and the level crossing from Ashade to Ikeja, and Agege to Cement was blocked, but since then, we have not seen them carry out any repair on the road and this closure has caused motorists to take other routes; some are even driving against the traffic on the expressway, which is very risky.
“This has also given the motorcycle riders an opportunity to exploit people because they know that some people don’t have a choice but to patronise them. We beg the government to help us to lessen this burden so that Lagos will be a comfortable place to live in.
“Our passengers are disturbed because of the level crossing closure; after dropping them at the level crossing, they will have to jump over the iron bar to get to the other side to board tricycles to their destinations and the iron bar is not something people should be jumping over; there was a day that the bar injured one boy.
“The NRC and the Lagos State Government should reopen this road so that we can be dropping our passengers at their destinations instead of dropping them halfway. The stress is too much for everybody. If they want to repair the rail line, they should do it quickly.”
A resident of the area, Philip Ogwai, who has a shop at the Guinness area, lamented the stress he faces daily before getting to his shop.
He said, “I live in Dopemu and have a shop around Guinness; before the closure of the level crossing, I spend N100 as fare from Dopemu to Guinness, but now, I take a tricycle to Ashade for N100 and another one to Guinness; so the expenses have increased and we are suffering. Sometimes when I don’t have much money on me, I trek to my shop from the level crossing.
“We are finding it difficult to go about our daily business; when conveying my goods, I find it difficult because I will have to pass through Ikeja Along. They should open this road for us to use and whenever they are ready to work on it, they can close it back.”
Another resident, Iskilu Alabi said, “We the commuters on this road are spending double the amount we used to spend; where we ought to spend N100 as fare, we are now spending more than that because of the closure. We now have to board a commercial bus to Ashade and another to Ikeja or any other place we are going to.
“If we want to pass where we will pay reduced fares, we will be late for work because of traffic; I have been given queries in my place of work, because of coming late to work; if this place is opened, I will get to work early. We want the government and the NRC to come to our aid.”
When contacted, the Deputy Director, Public Relations, NRC, Yakubu Mahmood, appealed to the motorists and residents to exercise patience, adding that the railway crossing would be reopened soon.
He said, “We are liaising with the Lagos State Government to reopen the railway crossing very soon. Our civil engineering department is working seriously towards the reopening of the level crossing to ease the traffic problem for people residing around the area.
“It will soon be reopened, they should bear with us.”