Gridlock returns to Lagos amid stay-at-home order

The twin effect of boredom and idleness yesterday forced Lagos residents to the streets on Day Seven of the lockdown. Barely seven days into the 14-day stay-at-home order issued by the federal government and enforced by the Lagos State government, traffic snarls resurfaced in some parts of the state as angry Lagosians have begun to flout the directive.

In different parts of the state, Lagosians were seen on the roads, either driving, walking or having group fitness exercises together. The highway at Gbagada was blocked by residents who turned the road into a fitness class yesterday morning, thus making mockery of the social distancing policy and restriction order.

At Lagos Island, there were pockets of traffic on the Lekki-epe expressway. In Lekki, the traffic stretched and lasted for a long time because some motorists who tried to cut corners drove against traffic.

Nigerians yesterday expressed dismay over the gridlock despite the lockdown order. One of them, who is a medical doctor in a public hospital on Lagos Island, identified simply as Enny, lamented that she was unduly delayed. Enny said she was in the gridlock from Sangotedo to Jakande bus-stop for more than two hours.

Another road user, who gave his name as Mike, complained that most of the people causing the gridlock were either going to a nearby market or visiting a friend. “Many of these guys could have just trekked to where they are going. I understand that rich people live here, by trekking short kilometres to get whatever they want could have saved us this mess,” Mike, who works with one of the telecommunication companies in Nigeria, added.

A social user also complained about the usual movement and traffic on the island. According to John Adekoya, Eti-Osa local council has the highest cases of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Lagos “but it is so sad that with the number of highly educated and sophisticated people living in this axis, it the part of the state experiencing the highest number of people trying to move around during the lockdown.”

In trying to enforce the law, the Rapid Response Squad (RRS) operatives, led by its commander, DCP Tunji Disu, went on a routine monitoring to arrest some motorists. In some places they visited, they were called in by some residents who tipped them off, while other places visited were part of their monitoring schedule.

During their routine monitoring at Maryland, Ojota, Ogudu, Agboyi – Ketu, Alapere, Ketu and Mile 12, they made some arrests. Two commercial buses and a Toyota Camry car loading passengers between Ketu and Mile 12 were impounded and handed over to Ketu Divisional Police Station.

Another vehicle, a Nissan Pathfinder, without valid reason for being on the road was also handed over to Alausa Police Station. When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer in Lagos, Bala Elkanah, said the gridlock was caused by the blockage of roads by men of the Lagos State Police Command. He said: “We narrowed the road and blocked it to ensure effective checking of vehicles before allowing them to pass. Don’t forget that some essential workers are allowed to use the road and we have to allow them to pass.”

When asked what action is being taken by the police when a road user not on an essential duty is found, he replied, “we impound the vehicles immediately. We have impounded over 500 vehicles and many vehicles were impounded from that area too.”

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