By Ozioruva Aliu
MOST of the road traffic lights in Benin-City, capital of Edo State, have broken down, causing frenzied gridlocks during rush hours in the morning and evening.
NDV investigation revealed that the limited number that are lit permanently display caution sign, while marshals of Edo State Traffic Management Agency, EDSTMA, traffic policemen and volunteers battle to cope with the bad situation worsening by the day
Ex-gov Oshiomhole’s promise
When former governor of the state, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole assumed office in 2008, he promised to tar all the major roads leading to the city center besides several other roads and streets and fit them with street lights, walkways and traffic lights where applicable.
Except Ekheuan Road, the remaining four major roads leading to Oba Ovonranmwen Square namely: Akpakpava Road, Sapele Road, Airport Road and Sokponba Road were tarred and solar-powered traffic lights mounted at necessary junctions.
Several other roads like 2nd East Circular Road, Mission Road, Forestry Road, New Lagos Road, Siluko were constructed and fitted with traffic lights by his administration.
From long-lasting caution to termination
NDV investigation showed traffic lights installed by the administration started failing one after the other. The ones totally down displayed only caution indicator before going blank, making many residents to conclude that the few presently indicating caution signs could soon turn off.
Beginning from Airport Road, none of the traffic lights by Boundary Junction, Golf Course Road, Akenzua and Ezoti Junction are functional.“It is the same condition along Sapele Road where all the traffic lights by Government Reservation Road, GRA Junction, close to the Central Hospital; 1st Junction beside the Police Area Command Office; 3rd Junction with adjoining roads from Ikpokpan and Murtala Muhammed Way, are not working.
The disorder is noticed at Adesuwa Junction, while by Sokponba Road Junction, along Murtala Mohammed Way, the traffic lights in the four intersections, a very busy area, are at times controlled by several taskforces of the various road transport associations, whose officials collect levies from their members as they control traffic.
Along Akpakpava Road, the traffic lights by Igbesanmwan Junction, 1st, 2nd and 3rd East Circular Roads’ junctions are all dead and one of the poles by 3rd East Circular Road pulled down, apparently by a driver that strayed from his route.“Traffic lights along the New Lagos Road by Mission Road Junction, Lawani Street Junction, Okhoro Road Junction and Medical Stores Road Junction have all gone kaput. At Siluko Road, all the traffic lights that dot the axis from the Junction to Textile Mill Road Junction, numbering about five, are all dead, while the only one in Ekheuan Road by Ehaikpen Junction is also not working.
From Sapele Road to Ring Road, no traffic light is working —Imafidon, driver
Reacting to the chaos, a commercial bus driver, who gave his name as Osaro Imafidon, said: “Last week, a Toyota Corolla car ran into my car, destroying my windscreen, side mirror and part of the driver’s door while the Corolla was also badly damaged because the driver did not watch well while crossing into Reservation Road from Ring Road.
“I was coming from Sapele Road, so I had crossed the centre of the road before he saw me and in trying to avoid my bus, he hit the pavement. That accident was because the traffic lights were not on. When the traffic light was functioning, you hardly have accidents there except those drivers who do not obey.
“I am surprised that the state government has abandoned all the traffic lights. I ply Sapele Road to Ring Road; no single traffic light is working. It is EDSTMA and traffic policemen that are saving the situation and sometimes it will rain and these people will be in the rain without proper kitting controlling traffic,” he said.“
I’m stunned govt neglected traffic lights —Inhabitant
Another resident, who preferred anonymity, disclosed: “By Television Road Junction, along Siluko Road, there was confusion recently as there was no traffic management personnel at that intersection coupled with nonfunctional traffic lights at the busy junction, it was a FRSC, volunteer (marshal) who was also caught in the jam that saved the situation.
“I lost a side mirror because a commercial bus driver drove carelessly just by the traffic light at Lawani Junction by Iyaro and he did not even stop. If the traffic light was on, I do not think he would have driven the way he did. But I am shocked the government would allow a basic need as traffic light to go bad this way,” he added.
Street lights back soon —Uyiekpen, perm sec
At the time of filing this report, the governor is yet to constitute his cabinet and not officially announced a spokesperson, but when contacted, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Energy and Electricity, Steve Uyiekpen, said government was working to fix them.
“The governor is aware, the government is aware and we are doing everything to quickly remedy the situation. You will discover that all the traffic lights went down at the same time, so we have discovered that it is a problem that has to do with the GPS and the controllers because all the traffic lights cannot just go off at the same time.
“Sometimes, even when there is light, the batteries cannot charge and the lights cannot turn on, but some of those components are not what you just buy off the shelf. You have to place order. But, very soon, I assure you that all the lights will be back,” Uyiekpen stated.