The road users add that they are alarmed by the rising insecurity on the expressway.
The expressway, which is the major route to Nigeria’s busiest seaports, has garnered notoriety for traffic slow motion as a result of craters and ditches that are its common features.
According to port operators who are on the expressway on daily basis, the challenges posed by the poor state of the road to business are enormous. They add that the rising insecurity is making commuting on the expressway not just difficult but also life-threatening.
Apparently as part of the ongoing roads rehabilitation drive by the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA), the Federal Ministry of Works stated recently that FERMA would soon start maintenance work on the expressway.
FERMA, however, says that the expressway is not part of its roads maintenance drive in the South West zone, explaining that contract for the reconstruction of the expressway has been awarded to contractors who have already gone far with their work.
An official of the agency, who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity, said that the maintenance of the road in terms of carrying out palliatives should be done by both Julius Berger and Borini Prono who are the contractors on the expressway.
Apapa-Oshodi Expressway is a 27.5km road that was constructed between 1975 and 1978.
In response to public outcry, the Federal Government in November 2010 awarded a N6.2 billion contract for its reconstruction to Julius Berger and Borini Prono who are yet to deliver 40 percent of the work that is required to be done.
When Mike Onolememen, the Works Minister, came on inspection of the expressway early this year, he said he was happy with Julius Berger’s pace of work, adding that government was perfecting plans to take on the Apapa-bound carriageway on the expressway.
“As we speak, we are finalising plans to ensure that the other side of the road is taken on immediately. We are making plans to ensure accelerated funding of the project which is important and germane to the nation’s economy because the road leads to the two busiest seaports in Nigeria,” he said.
The road users lament that several months after this promise, neither Julius Berger nor Borini Prono is anywhere on the expressway while its state continues to worsen.
When our correspondent took a trip to the expressway, beginning from Ijesha through Mile 2 to Coconut Bus-stop, several portholes which have turned into gullies were counted and these were areas where vehicles are trapped and containers upturned.
Commuters count their losses on the expressway in terms of increased travel time and threat to their lives by miscreants who terrorise them at traffic jams.
Kayode Olumgbemi, who works with one of the shipping companies at Apapa, disclosed that one of the greatest pains and fear of passing through the expressway is the increasing rate of armed robbery and pocket picking, perpetrated by hoodlums and area boys.
Recounting his experience, which had in two different occasions cost him valuables including money, he noted that traffic jams create good opportunity for the hoodlums to rob people of their valuables.
Dallas Hampton, managing director of APM Terminals Apapa, also told BusinessDay in an interview that the poor state of the main roads into the ports caused by deepening portholes and indiscriminate parking of trailers with containers, remained a major issue that government needed to address.
“The road does not have enough capacity to make traffic flow freely around the port for movement of cargo and that is why we always have traffic congestion,” he said.
Yehuda Kotik, managing director, Tin-Can Island Container Terminal (TICT), one of the concessionaires at Tin-Can Island port, affirmed that the bad state of port access road has become a very big challenge to their operations.
According to him, the access road to Apapa and Tin Can Island ports has deteriorated such that it becomes difficult for importers to take delivery of their consignment after customs clearance.