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"Operation Python Dance" causing traffic congestion in South-East

Following the "Operation Python Dance" launched by the Nigerian Military in the southeastern region, part of the country, which the army mounted a lot of road blocks causing traffic gridlocks especially this Xmas period.
"Operation Python Dance" causing traffic congestion in South-East
Mounted road blocks by the Nigerian Army
The luxury bus owners have appealed to the Federal Government to order the removal of the roadblocks on many strategic highways in the southeast to enable the flow of vehicular movement.

The inter-state transporters said at the weekend that the military road blocks have led to gridlocks which result in road users being stranded for hours while some commercial vehicles get to their destinations two days after departing their terminals.

Speaking in Lagos while reacting to what he said was recent harrowing experiences of luxury bus operators and other commercial vehicle owners since Operation Python Dance commenced, the President of the Association of Luxury Bus Owners of Nigeria (ALBON), Chief Dan Okemuo, lamented that some travellers depart Lagos in the morning and get to their eastern destinations the following day.

He called on the Federal Government and the Nigerian Army to listen to the cry of users of the eastern highways and halt the operation immediately or conduct it off-road and in a manner that will not affect the flow of traffic.

Echoing Okemuo’s concerns, ALBON Vice President, Prince Emeka Mamah, expressed the fear that if the situation remains the same till Christmas, travelling to the east for the festivities would be nightmarish for the easterners.

He explained that this is because the volume of traffic on the highways leading to the south-east is expected to increase sharply, while some of the roads are in bad condition already, and slow down traffic even on normal days.

“In the past few days,” Mamah recalled, “the traffic congestion caused by the Operation Python Dance road blocks was so bad that many of our buses and passengers slept on the road while some trips lasted close to 48 hours.” He further said: “This is not the kind of Christmas gift we want for our customers who grow in number during the Yuletide. The road blocks are simply compounding the problems on the roads.”

In place of road blocks that are counter-productive, traffic-wise, Mamah suggested that patrol teams be deployed to some identified trouble spots and stretches of the highways. “I believe that this will be more effective and reassuring to the road users than road blocks that cause traffic jams and keep travellers stranded.”

He added: “We at ALBON will like to use this medium to thank our numerous customers who have been travelling with our members’ vehicles to various destinations over the years, a merry and safe Christmas celebration. You are the reason we are still in business, and we will do whatever we can to ensure that you travel comfortably and safely throughout this season and beyond.”

Some of the Army road blocks are located at both ends of the Niger bridge in Asaba and Onitsha; 9th Mile in Enugu; at both sides of the expressway linking Anambra and Enugu states (at Amansea); on the old Enugu-Awka road, and Onitsha-Owerri road – in what the Army authorities say is part of efforts to ensure free flow of traffic, as well as check crimes and raids by herdsmen.

But, the transporters argue that since the operation was launched on November 27 traffic, especially on the highway leading to Asaba and Onitsha from the Benin end, has not been flowing freely, and is likely to worsen if the road blocks are not dismantled.

Emphasizing that the country is not at war with itself, the luxury bus owners said the presence of the military at road blocks gives the impression that there is war, a situation which may create tension among members of the travelling public.

“We implore the government to do the needful by removing those military road blocks along our major highways for members of the public to have a peaceful Christmas devoid of tension.”

They appealed to government to prevent a repeat of last year’s ugly incident when the road leading to the Niger Bridge from Asaba was made completely impassable for motorists as soldiers mounted road blocks allegedly to checkmate the activities of members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).

As a result of the stopand- search exercise that year, passengers going home for Christmas from the western part of the country spent two days on the road.

Operation Python Dance, according to the Nigerian Army, is expected to end on December 27.


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