Robbers have cashed in on the unending gridlock on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway with many motorists and passengers being dispossessed of their valuables.
Motorists, who spoke with PUNCH Metro, said gunmen attacked them as the gridlock intensified due to the rehabilitation of the road by Julius Berger Plc.
Some victims said the robbers attacked Lagos-bound vehicles held up in the traffic and stole phones and money, among other valuables.
A motorist, Aborishade Osanyin, said the hoodlums operated at about 8pm on Sunday.
He said, “They targeted exotic cars in the traffic. They harassed the owners and collected their valuables.
“The robbers are suspected to be hoodlums hiding under the Kara Bridge. Some motorists managed to reach the police, but the robbers had a field day for about 20 minutes.”
A commuter, who did not identify himself, described how the robbers operated.
“Some of them wore masks and had guns. They took the side of the long bridge where Julius Berger is rehabilitating and attacked vehicles in the gridlock. They shot into the air as they moved from one vehicle to the other. It was scary; some people jumped out of their vehicles and ran away,” he said.
The commuter said when policemen, who had received information on the robbery, arrived at the scene, they started shooting into the air to scare off the robbers.
He said the hoodlums escaped into the surrounding bushes.
It was learnt that policemen attached to the Warewa Police Division, Ogun State, and the operatives of the Rapid Response Squad, and the Isheri Police Division, Lagos State, responded to the situation.
A policeman in the team told our reporters that no arrest was made.
He said, “The hoodlums have hideouts in the area. When they sighted the police patrol vehicles, they took to their heels. The most important thing was to stop the robbery, which we did. We were able to assure the motorists driving into Lagos that the robbers had fled and that they were safe.”
Similarly on Tuesday, the robbers were said to have blocked the Multichoice end of the expressway attacking motorists in the resultant gridlock.
The Commander, RRS, ACP Olatunji Disu, said the police dislodged the robbers on Sunday.
He said, “The RRS patrol team and the Isheri division went after the robbers. We were able to dislodge them.”
Meanwhile, Julius Berger Plc, the Redeemed Christian Church of God and the Mowe Unit of the Federal Road Safety Corps have started work on alternative roads to decongest gridlock on the expressway.
One of the alternative routes, which had been made available for use, opened up from the Warewa end to the Kara end of the expressway.
The FRSC Mowe Unit Commander, Assistant Corps Commander Oludare Ogunjobi, said the alternative roads would be accessible to only cars while heavy-duty trucks would use the expressway.
One of our correspondents, who visited Warewa around 2pm on Monday, observed that motorists had been plying the alternative route to link the Berger area of Lagos.
A motorist, Joseph Adewale, while commending the initiative, called on the contractor to speed up work on the expressway.
He said, “For the past six weeks, the expressway has been a nightmare because of the gridlock. At about 9pm on Sunday when I was returning from the Redeemed Christian Church of God, there was traffic on the long bridge. I spent almost two hours there. With this alternative route, I hope the traffic will ease. The construction on the expressway should be completed on time.”
Another driver, Simeon Peter, appealed to the FRSC to be at the spot at all times to ensure order on the road.
“If there is no one to control the traffic, the aim of providing this alternative will be defeated,” he added.
Our correspondent learnt that the RCCG created two alternative routes at the Ibafo, Ogun State end of the expressway to ensure a free flow of vehicular movement.
One of the church’s engineers working on the road, Mr. Abioye Olujimi, said a barrier would be mounted at the entrance of the road to prevent trucks.
He said, “We are 95 per cent through with the routes. What remains now is to spread asphalt on it. Over 2,000 vehicles had used the roads today and I assure you that the expressway will soon be free. The alternative roads are strictly for small vehicles, while heavy-duty trucks will use the bridge.
“There is going to be a barrier across the roads to prevent trucks from coming in. We are through with the black spots at Car Park C and NASFAT. We are also working on the ones at Mountain Top and in front of Ara Hall in Ibafo. We want to evacuate about two-third of the vehicles on the expressway through these alternative routes.”
The FRSC, Mowe Unit Commander, Ogunjobi, urged motorists to avoid driving against traffic.
He said his men would always be on the ground to ensure smooth flow of traffic, adding that any motorist caught violating traffic law would be dealt with.
He said, “Small vehicles are advised to use the alternative roads. No motorist should drive against the traffic. Whoever is caught will be prosecuted. The violators will be made to undergo psychiatric tests because no normal person will drive against the traffic. FRSC officials will be on the ground to enforce compliance.”
Efforts to speak with Julius Berger were abortive as of the time of filing this report on Tuesday.