The worsening gridlock at the Longbridge, Ogun State end of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway due to ongoing construction has created an avenue for louts to make money.
A group of boys dug a tunnel under the Longbridge to enable motorists and commercial drivers to beat traffic on the road.
One of PUNCH correspondents observed as road users drove through the tunnel, which was at the beginning of the bridge inward Lagos.
With the tunnel, motorists connected to an untarred road at the Warewa area and drove against traffic towards Berger, Lagos State.
The tunnel was flooded. However, there was a pumping machine and a pipe which, according to a commercial bus driver, was used to drain some of the water to ease the movement of vehicles.
The louts, numbering about six, were seen directing motorists into the tunnel while also demanding money before granting them passage.
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Some of them were seen smoking a substance suspected to be hemp and also drinking alcohol from sachets.
They declined the request of our reporter for an interview, saying they were busy as they continued taking tolls from users of the passage.
One of them dragged the shirt of a bus driver while the bus was in motion for refusing to pay.
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While speaking in Yoruba, he said, “Give me money. Or do you think you can pass through this tunnel without paying?”
A banner placed on the side of the bridge where the tunnel was, read, “Please, kindly assist with any amount. And may God bless those that make it work. Thanks. (Underbridge Management).”
One of our reporters observed officials of the Federal Road Safety Corps in their operation vehicle at Arepo Bus Stop inward Ogun State.
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The spokesperson for the FRSC in Ogun State, Florence Okpe, said, “I noticed it (tunnel) on Friday while I was travelling to Lagos, immediately after PUNCH, around Warewa. They (motorists) go under the bridge to link the other side of the road and then face one way. I’ll call OC Ibafo right now.”
For weeks now, commuters have been lamenting the traffic on the road, which is being reconstructed by Julius Berger Nigeria Limited.
The traffic on Monday started around 6am at the Longbridge to the OPIC U-turn due to a diversion of about three kilometres created by the company.
While correspondents observed that Julius Berger had deployed equipment to the road, motorists claimed that the company did not start the work on time.
A motorist, Seun Adewole, said, “We are going through a hard time plying this route. It has been close to two weeks since Julius Berger created this diversion, but they refused to start work on time. There is no reason why they should create a diversion without starting work immediately.
“This was what they did when they created a diversion at the Otedola Bridge and did not start work on the road on time until after some time.”
Another motorist, Opeoluwa Jimoh, said the company was spending too much time on the road.
The supervisor of the Lagos-Sagamu section of the expressway, Wale Adebote, said the construction was ongoing in three sections simultaneously.
Adebote said, “We are aware of the hardship motorists are facing in the course of the road construction, which we also face as well in course of work.
“Our main goal is to complete the road project before the end of the year. We are trying to utilize this period now that rain has stopped.”
The Ogun State Sector Commander, FRSC, Hammed Umar, said his men were working with the police to keep sanity on the road.