After the two day Sallah holidays, residents of Port Harcourt metropolis and its environs expected that traffic problems within the state capital would rear their ugly heads once more. The public holidays had expectedly drastically reduced the level of traffic within the metropolis.
The residents of the city did not, however, bargain that the traffic difficulties would return to the city with a bang.
The traffic wahala did not only return with a bang, it also compounded the traffic nightmare of several residents. This is because routes leading to the Port Harcourt main town and the Lagos Bus Stop, Aggrey Road and Borokiri through Azikiwe Road were completely blocked as a result of on-going rehabilitation work along the busy road.
Azikiwe Road is a major road which pushes traffic to the Government House, the State Secretariat Complex, the state House of Assembly complex, the courts including the High Courts and the Court of Appeal, the State Police Command headquarters and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s Port Harcourt office among other corporate offices in the city. The strategic importance of the road is further underscored by the fact that it is a major carriage way for government business as both civil servants and government officials make use of it on a daily basis.
Hence, when work resumed in the city last Monday after the Sallah holidays, users of the road were astonished to learn that a section of the road had been closed for traffic due to a major rehabilitation work going on along it. The portion where the work was going on was completely scraped and blocked.
The residents might have been surprised because they never noticed potholes along the long stretch of road. If anything was wrong with that portion of the road, it was also not to their knowledge because it had been one of the major roads in the city where motorists had been having smooth rides. There were virtually no bumps, potholes or other terrible spots along that road.
However, the Ministry of Works, through its Honourable Commissioner, Hon. Dakuku Peterside had gone on air to explain that the road was being rehabilitated because of some structural defects in its construction, insisting that something was actually wrong with the stone base of the road.
The traffic nightmare the rehabilitation of the road caused motorists and commuters was quite unbearable as traffic along the road was diverted to Forces Avenue. It was also in realisation of this fact that the company handling the rehabilitation project apparently displayed a “sorry for the inconvenience” notice at the junction between Azikiwe Road, Abonnema Wharf and Forces Avenue.
Vehicles heading towards the Port Harcourt main town were diverted to Forces Avenue while the other lane of the road from the main town was open for traffic,
The blocking of a section of Azikiwe Road and the diversion of traffic actually placed traffic pressure on several other roads within the axis of the city.
There were serious traffic jams along Azikiwe Road, Forces Avenue, William Jumbo Road and even Moscow Road.
The traffic situation further made commuters to be stranded at various bus stops within the city as motorists particularly taxi cabs operators refused to commute stranded commuters in a desperate bid to avoid routes prune to heavy traffic jams. Those who did not understand what had happened in the early morning of Monday were surprised to see taxi drivers who refused to take passengers to William Jumbo axis of the city particularly around the motor park for vehicles heading towards Garrison, Waterlines and Rumuola junctions along the busy Aba Road.
The reason adduced by the taxi cabs operators was that the roads leading to Braithwaite Memorial Hospital (BMH) and Moscow Road were congested with traffic. That was the first sign that all was not well with the Port Harcourt metropolis in terms of traffic flow. Sadly enough, the traffic situation has persisted till now as the rehabilitation of Azikiwe Road has continued, as residents of the city have to grapple with the problem in the coming week.
As residents of the city enter a new week, workers among them in particular are hoping that traffic difficulties they experienced last week would be mitigated. They have therefore, continued to make a passionate appeal to the Ministry of Works to ensure that the rehabilitation exercise is completed in record time to facilitate free flow of traffic again.