Commentary: Ensuring A Gridlock-free Yuletide

Commentary: Ensuring A Gridlock-free Yuletide

There is no doubt that the wind of Christmas is blowing everywhere now. Already, there are serious hold ups every day in many of our roads in Awka, Onitsha, Nnewi, Ekwulobia, Afo Igwe, Bridge Head, Oye Agu, Eke Awka, and so on. Thus, sometimes, a journey of 20 minutes ends up in one hour or more. Therefore, we need to prepare to enable everyone to enjoy the rush hour associated with the festive period.

At Christmas, many people in the diaspora are coming to celebrate at home. During this time, we tend to have more cars, buses and trucks on our already highly busy roads.

At this time also, we tend to have more ceremonies like weddings, traditional marriages, anniversaries, burials, house warming, memorial services, child dedications, football matches, launchings and so on. These activities have great impact on our roads because persons and vehicular movements occur. Worse still, some people performing one ceremony or the other, normally block the roads, creating heavy burdens on the masses.

Around many markets such as Eke Awka, Ose, main market Onitsha, vehicles are parked at both sides of the roads, thereby obstructing the way for other passing vehicles. This, in turn, usually generates serious or minor hold ups.

Sometimes, there is long traffic holdup. Unfortunately, when you get to the end of the hold, you discover to your dismay that some keke, bus or car drivers are making U-turning at the center of the road or picking passengers. Worse still, everybody is in a hurry to move first, then, road is blocked.

Sometimes, it is one of the “big” men in town that has stopped at the center of the road to exchange greetings with a friend on the road, without minding that others are on the same road with them.

The governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano, graciously installed traffic lights to help traffic control, but get to these places you will discover that most people are not obeying the traffic lights instructions.

Since it has been established that during festive periods, roads are usually busier than any time of the year, there is urgent need for more careful and thoughtful planning this time. There is need for law enforcement agents and traffic controllers to enforce the use of bus stops for all vehicles. The bus stops should be created where there are none. They should be in such places where bus stopping will not cause obstruction to other road users.

Also, double parking should be stopped in all its ramifications. Most roads are double lanes, of which some of them do not have shoulders. To park on both sides of the road will reduce the road to only one lane, or one way traffics with no provision for even pedestrians.

Vehicles, including keke, buses and cars should be arrested and prosecuted for making ‘U-turns” or for picking passengers at the center of the road. Some roads are designated as one way, to help control the traffic surge. Those who flout the order and disobey road/traffic signs should be apprehended too.

Let there be garage for keke operators. They should not be allowed to block the junctions while scouting for passengers at the detriment of other road users. Furthermore, operatives of OCHA brigade should go after hawkers who block the roads with their goods.

Upright Law enforcement agents should be detailed to the major junctions to help control the traffic and ensure that the traffic lights are obeyed; not those that will go there to fill their pockets. If we give ourselves to discipline, there will not be nothing like staying on our roads for longer hours.

Notably, any law without enforcement is useless. Hence, for a yuletide, free of gridlock, we need task force and mobile traffic court to ensure that the traffic lights are obeyed, bus stops are maintained, u-turn in unauthorized places are stopped and so on. We need to start now, because a stitch in time saves nine.

WRITTEN BY CHARLES OKEKE

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