The traffic gridlock that lasted for over a week in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital, occasioned by the recent flooding has relaxed following a drop in water levels in the area. Residents of Lokoja, road users and indeed commuters were subjected to hardship as a result of their inability to find their way to their various destinations. Houses were submerged under water following the flooding, which left many feared dead and thousand displaced across the country.
The traffic gridlock has however shifted from Lokoja to Auchi, inflicted time and economic hardship on residents, road users and truck drivers alike. Unlike what transpired in Lokoja, the traffic gridlock in Auchi, Edo State is not caused by flooding but by Truck Drivers who have decided to take a protest to draw attention to the poor state of roads. Nigeria Star News Correspondent was on ground to get first hand information about the situation which has entered its fourth day. While investigating, it was discovered that the truck Drivers plying the Okene-Auchi, Auchi-Benin Road took their displeasure over the poor nature of the roads linking Auchi-Okene and Auchi-Benin to another level. The drivers decided to block the road in order to draw the attention of the Federal Government of Nigeria over the poor nature of the roads.
A frustrated road user who did not want his name mentioned lamented the situation calling on Government to do something about the situation.
In his own words “This situation started on Monday (17th October 2022) when the truck drivers took to the streets to say that this road, they want block it since government has refused to maintain the road . It is so bad that from here (Auchi) to Benin the road is in very bad shape. When you get to Agbede the road has degenerated to the point that there will be a long queue of trucks trying to mannuver, every part of the road has collapsed because the road has collapsed, down to Ekpoma. There is no free flow of traffic from Auchi to Benin. This is a major road connecting the Southern part of Nigeria and the North”.
“We learnt that the Deputy Governor of Edo State Mr Philip Shuaibu was around, even he couldn’t come down to address the protesters, and when he couldn’t find his way through he went round to find another way home, because his house is not far from this place”.
He added that “The drivers are now the ones saying that something has to be done about the road, that is to say from Okene to Benin there is no road and these roads are the ones carrying goods and services, materials to other people that consume them”.
“The problem we are facing now is that there is no fuel in Auchi because tankers who are supposed to bring fuel to Auchi are complaining that their is no road. You can see the some queue now those who are bringing tomatoes, bringing yam, bringing other products; the ones from Onitsha, Lagos all the rest taking other goods to the north are all stock here”.
He added that the protest was basically by truck drivers and not the community, stressing that it was non political, not an issue of PDP, APC or Labour Party but an issue of concerned Nigerians who need a better place.
He advised government to look into the issue, adding that year in year out monies are budgeted for construction and maintenance of road. He said that the roads constructed years back by previous governments need to be maintenance. He stressed that government is about continuity, adding that if the roads have broken down, the current government should take responsibility and fix them so that motorists and others road users can enjoy the road because it is the only basic amenity the commoners can enjoy for free
Helpless travellers are seen taken motor bikes to cross the gridlock and board vehicles to their destinations, while those carrying goods were seen offloading them and crossing them to the other side to put them in smaller vehicles, while others helplessly wait in oblivion. As at 3pm of Friday 21st October 2022, it was a stand-still situation for vehicles and trucks Commuters and road users travelling through Auchi to Benin, Lagos and other parts are advised to take alternative routes pending when the situation improves in Auchi