Lagos - Five days into the closure of the Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos, hundreds of motorists and commuters on Friday besieged jetties in Ikorodu town to board ferries to Lagos Island.
Motorists in the area parked their vehicles near the jetties and adjoining streets as early as 6.30 a.m. to buy tickets for the trip to Ajah, near Victoria Island.
The closure of the bridge on July 8 by the Federal Ministry of Works for routine maintenance had resulted in traffic jams on major highways in the metropolis.
Mr Bolaji Doherty, a graphic artist said that the ferry service had relieved him of the stress of driving daily from Ikorodu to his office in Lekki.
``I do not rush out from my house at 5.a.m. daily again since I started using the boats this week; I have discovered that it is relatively cheaper, safer and also saves time.
``I park my car at the parking lot in the morning and pick it later in the evening when I return instead of spending hours in the traffic to and from work,’’ he said.
A businesswoman, Mrs Bilikis Olorunshogo, said the ferry service had helped to decongest the Ikorodu-Lagos Expressway and other roads in the metropolis.
``The roads are not as congested as before since more people now park their vehicles to board the boats to the island.
``For instance, the usual traffic jam on the Ikorodu -Mile 12 road has reduced considerably.
``I spent about 15 minutes from Ikorodu Garage to Mile 12 yesterday which normally takes more than one hour; it is a good development," she said.
An architect, Mr Akeem Balogun, said that the diversion of the traffic by the transport authorities and the ferry services had been effective.
He lauded the Lagos State Government for effectively monitoring the traffic on its dedicated radio, 96.1 FM, and officials of the State Traffic Management Authority for ensuring free flow of traffic.
The past few days have shown that with close monitoring and the use of the water transportation system, the roads can be rid of the usual traffic jams where commuters and motorists spend hours.
``A well-developed water transportation system is a viable alternative to the roads. The government should complement the private ferry operators for a more effective service,’’
A commercial bus driver, Mr Wasiu Adekunle, expressed satisfaction with the integrated approach adopted by the federal and Lagos state governments to free the roads of gridlocks.
``There is now a free flow of traffic on major roads across the city; I have been able to increase the number of trips I make daily to make more money.
``The shuttle service I provide from Ikorodu to Mile 12, for instance, is fast and stress-free,’’ he said.
However, he stressed the need to quickly complete the rehabilitation.