Beware Of Dangerous Medians!

ARTI

Searching For Bread…With Shovels

THAT you’ve driven for years in Onitsha, Kano, Osogbo or any part of the country, for that matter, is not reason enough to hit Lagos roads. Sure, you could be an ‘expert’ at the wheels, but driving in the city, especially at night, is a different ball game. Apart from bad roads, which are mostly without streetlights, you have reckless danfo drivers to contend with.

And if you have not-so-good eyesight, then it’s double wahala because most Lagosians drive with their full lights on. Halogen lamps from oncoming vehicles could also blind you momentarily, resulting in a head-on collision or ‘kiss’ with a median. In order to control traffic in the city and stop vehicles from getting into opposing lanes, the administration of former Governor Babatunde Fashola embarked on dualisation of some major roads, introducing medians in the process.

With these barriers, roads such as Ogulana Drive, Adeniran Ogunsanya, Opebi Road, Oba Akran Road, Ojekunle Street and others, which hitherto had been single lanes, were dualised.

The introduction of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) also led to the creation of a dedicated lane for the buses on Ikorodu Road. This reduced the available lanes for other commuters to two. To achieve this, medians were constructed to separate the lanes, with mergers at strategic places, to allow vehicles from service lanes access the expressway.

To a large extent, medians are useful at controlling traffic and maintaining sanity on the road. They are often built on the centre of wide urban multi-lane roads where they can be used to keep pedestrians from crossing the road at dangerous places.

They can also be used to restrict vehicle turning points. Normally, medians, used as safety barriers (designed to stop or redirect vehicles that hit them), are stronger than those used mainly to direct traffic flows or discourage pedestrians from crossing.

Most of the barriers on Lagos roads have become death traps. Apart from lack of public enlightenment on dualisation projects, the absence of streetlights on many of these roads gives commuters a precarious ride. “I don’t have problem with the dualisation. But I think government should communicate to the people when they do such projects. Sometimes, you just wake up to discover that these barriers have been introduced on the roads. So, if you are not careful, you could end up hitting them,” Olufemi Akanni said.

Though they can be made from materials like concrete and steel, decision on what median is best should be based on factors like traffic volume, traffic speed, vehicle types, median width, number of lanes, road alignment, crash history, and installation and maintenance costs.

However, investigation shows that most of the barriers on Lagos roads have become death traps. Apart from lack of public enlightenment on dualisation projects, the absence of streetlights on many of these roads gives commuters a precarious ride. “I don’t have problem with the dualisation.

But I think government should communicate to the people when they do such projects. Sometimes, you just wake up to discover that these barriers have been introduced on the roads. So, if you are not careful, you could end up hitting them,” Olufemi Akanni said.

When next you drive around town, take time to observe these barriers; most of them are without reflectors. Sometimes, in a bid to cut cost, the barriers are so small and are haphazardly executed by local contractors, unlike what Julius Berger put in place on the Oshodi Mile2 Expressway.

Visible signs and effective enforcement are needed to ensure drivers do not run on the wrong side of the median and the ends must be designed with reflectors or they could pose risks to road users.

“If you look at the edges of some of these medians, you would see that most of them have been hit, as a result of vehicles running into them at night.

Sometimes, you even see danfo drivers turning on them. When the BRT lane was introduced on Ikorodu Road, there were signs and reflectors put in place. Today, they’ve all disappeared, exposing drivers to danger. I think the new governor, Akinwumi Ambode, should look into this,” Sunday Akanbi said.

Meanwhile, what you have on Oba Akran Road in Ikeja is a good example of how not to construct a median; it is so low and difficult to see. This is far from what is obtainable on Ogunlana Drive and Adeniran Ogunsanya, both in Surulere. If part of the reasons barriers were introduced on Oba Akran Road is to prevent head-on collision, then the contractor needs to return to site. Another danger spot is Coker Road, Ilupeju, just before the traffic light (by Chicken Republic).

Cars usually ram into that barrier. The danger is pronounced when you are coming from Palmgroove Estate towards Town Planning Road. Because the barrier was introduced so near the traffic light, drivers may not be on the look out for it, except if they are already acquainted with the area

. The situation is the same when you are approaching the junction from Agege Motor Road end. This is most treacherous when it rains. When leaving the National Stadium Surulere, and turning into Funsho Williams Road via the service lane, be mindful of the BRT barrier, by the road merger.

That spot has become notorious for accidents, especially when the streetlights are off. Meanwhile, before the BRT Bus Stop at Maryland was moved closer to the Maryland Bridge, that spot used to be a major accident zone, as cars always rammed into the barrier for BRT buses.

When driving from Ojota on the expressway towards Maryland, observe the barrier and note the impact of accidents on the median. “I think the situation is even better; at least, some roads now have streetlights. It used to be worse. Just few weeks of rain, and you can see how bad the roads are.

Apart from the medians you are talking about, there are potholes everywhere. Personally, I don’t drive in Lagos after 7pm because, no matter how careful you are, as a driver, you don’t trust that guy coming in the opposite direction,” lamented Sylvester Nwokolo, a retired civil servant.

“In those days in Lagos, policemen and traffic officials would arrest you for using halogen lamps; they are not meant for driving on the streets. But if you go out now, you will see people using them everywhere. Some accidents result from that,” he said.

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