Hundreds of motorists passed the night at the Kara/Berger end of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway on Monday/ Tuesday, as they were stranded following the enforcement of the curfew imposed on Lagos and Ogun states as well as the Federal Capital Territory by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) to limit the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
While some of the motorists lamented spending hours for journeys that should have lasted minutes, others decried passing the night in their vehicles after being stuck in the gridlock that followed the closure of the Berger boundary between Lagos and Ogun states.
It was observed that security agents manned both the inward and outward lanes of the road at Berger.
Police personnel from Lagos and Ogun state commands, officials of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, the Lagos State Neighbourhood Safety Corps, Vehicle Inspection Officers and men of the Ogun State Traffic Compliance and Enforcement Corps were seen at the checkpoint.
Our correspondent observed that the uncompromising security personnel prevented vehicles, including those conveying foodstuffs and tankers coming into Lagos to load fuel as well as those on essential duty from coming into the state, while those exiting Lagos had a similar experience.
A motorist, Adedimeji Okanlawon, said the policemen at the checkpoint inward Lagos denied him passage despite informing them that he was an essential worker, adding that he had to pass the night in his vehicle.
Okanlawon stated, “I left the office in Arepo around midnight and the road was free until I got to the Sparklight Estate area on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. I initially thought that the gridlock was because the policemen were checking for essential workers, but I became worried when there was no movement for hours.
“I disembarked from my car and trekked from OPIC to the Berger checkpoint, where I saw a policeman, who said the road would not be opened until 6am.
“I showed him my ID card, but he ignored me; so, I trekked back to where I parked and passed the night in my car. But a lot of people conveying food items, charcoal and other materials, as well as tankers were among those stuck in the gridlock. I saw a lot of motorists sleeping on the road as there was no movement. I left the place at exactly 6.45am.”
Another motorist, Daramola Adebutu, said many people left their places of work late despite being aware of the curfew, adding that the roadblock at Berger spilled over to the Third Mainland Bridge, Alausa and Agidingbi areas of Lagos.
In the Sango area of Ogun State, motorists plying the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway also faced a similar situation as security agents at the toll gate area prevented them from gaining entry into the state.
A motorist, who identified himself simply as Idris, said he and other motorists were left with no option but to drive on the kerb because the policemen had barricaded the regular route.
The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, Bala Elkana, said, “On Monday, we had issues all over; the roads were shut because of the curfew; and when we shut down non-essential movement, essential workers were trapped in the gridlock. But eventually, we paved a way for them to pass.
“Today (Tuesday), we went around with the Commissioner of Police to assess the situation and the checkpoint at Berger was shifted to a wider area to accommodate more vehicular movement.
“Both the Lagos and Ogun CPs, the Deputy Commissioners for Operations in the states, the DC Operations from the Zone 2 and Area Commanders in both states were present when the decision was made to ease the situation.”