Lagos residents yesterday groaned under gridlock caused at different locations in the city by President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to the state.The state government had announced on Tuesday that movement would be restricted to certain areas during the president’s visit, promising that alternative routes would be created.
Some residents who spoke with The Guardian expressed disappointment over the way security operatives handled the situation, keeping them helpless by blocking most of the routes to their work places.
Many said they left their homes as early as 3:00 a.m. to beat the roadblocks mounted by security operatives, but they were not successful as early as that time.When The Guardian visited Agege motor road, along Oshodi road, a large crowd of people were seen trekking and sweating profusely as only a few commercial vehicles operated. They rained abuses on the state government on the way the Buhari’s visit negatively affected them.
The few commercial buses that operated yesterday increased transportation fare by over 100 per cent. For instance, buses going to ‘Ikeja Along’ from Oshodi charged N200, instead of the usual N100. The commercial drivers defended the fare increase, saying they had to drive through the streets of Ladipo to connect to PWD Bus Stop.
The Guardian’s reporter who boarded a bus to Ikeja noticed that all the passengers spoke angrily on the stress they went through to get to their destinations.A mother cuddling a crying baby described the visit as a huge burden to Lagosians. “Why should the visit to Lagos be different from that of other states? It is we the poor masses that are suffering it because the terminal he is coming to commission, the fare will not be reduced, it is still we the masses that will pay for it.”
Another man who identified himself as Wale Onimu said: “When I heard the announcement that some roads would be blocked, I had to leave home as early as 4:00 a.m. for Victoria Island where my office is located. Buhari’s visit to Lagos caused havoc to the residents.”One of the passengers compared Buhari’s visit to that of the former president, Goodluck Jonathan: “Look at what Buhari’s visit is causing us now. When Jonathan was in power, he visited Lagos regularly and we all went about our regular activities without any stress. I don’t know why Buhari’s visit is different. I don’t know why the stress would be this much, I would have stayed in my house.”
Domestic flight operations were yesterday disrupted nationwide due to the restriction of movement on some major routes in Lagos.The restriction, which began as early as 3:00 a.m., left a lot of the local and international passengers stranded and unable to catch their morning flights.The development forced local carriers to delay all morning flights out of Lagos for hours, causing a ripple effect on connecting flights in Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano and Enugu among other airports across the country.
Apart from the delays, some of the airlines flew at half the load factor to avoid cancellation, which cost them in millions.The Chief Operating Officer of one of the airlines told The Guardian that the “unfortunate twist of event” may cost him in excess of N20 million, having cancelled two of his eight Lagos-Abuja daily flights yesterday.
“It seems some people just forget that Lagos is the hub that feeds all other routes. So, practically shutting down Lagos is like disrupting all flights nationwide. We could have done better as a state,” he said on condition of anonymity.The access road connecting international and local terminals was at a standstill due to traffic spillover and disruption at the Ikeja end of Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway.
As part of the lockdown plan of the state government, the busy Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway had been truncated at both Ile-Zik and PWD axis, blocking traffic flow in and out of the airport area.Aviation security consultant, Group Capt. John Ojikutu (rtd), however, blamed the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) for not issuing adequate directives on the situation.
Some residents expressed their view on the visit in their twitter handles:
@biolakazeem: Lagos is shut down because the president is in town to commission a bus station. Not an underground train station or even a monorail. A bus station. A state supposedly led by a lettered man. Nigeria is finished. We can pack and go home now.
@DemolaRewaju: Agents of the state are mobilising 10 people from each ward in Lagos with a promise of N3,000 to come and hail Buhari while the police have caged the NBA Ikeja branch which wished to protest against Ambode’s retrogressive policies. Any crowd you see in Lagos today is rented.
@Chxta: The compulsory exercise that we are participating in in Lagos today isn’t because of the old man… It’s the pot-bellied one that is doing eye service that we should direct our ire at.
@newscantell: Ambode declared tomorrow as work-free because Buhari is coming to commission a bus stop in Lagos. Lagos is the 5th largest economy in Africa. The person that declared tomorrow work-free, the person that will commission the bus stop, and the people that will attend are all not serious.
@akaebube: This new airport terminal in Lagos was built and commissioned by GEJ. No public holiday was declared for its commissioning. No road closures. No fanfare. Buhari is coming to Lagos to commission a “Bus stop” and we have a state of emergency on our hands.
@gossyomega: People booked their flights many weeks ago, so many people are flying out of Lagos for Easter. Yet you block roads leading to the Airport with 24hour notice.