By Olasunkanmi Akoni & Monsur Olowoopejo
Lagos—Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State, yesterday visited major traffic points in Apapa area of the state to get a first hand experience of the gridlock which has defied solutions in recent times, just as he appealed to the Federal Government to mobilise the contractor awarded the construction of Apapa road networks to immediately return to site.
Ambode, who was accompanied on the tour by top officials of the state government and security agencies, said he was particularly disturbed about the traffic commuters and motorists are condemned to on a daily basis, which he said was largely due to the indiscriminate parking of articulated trucks attempting to access the port and tank farms located within the axis.
“What we have done in the last three hours is trying to find out what are the issues that partain to Apapa. We’ve all seen that the gridlock in Apapa is multi-faceted. We have examined things that relate to activities of trailer and tanker drivers”, the governor said in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Habib Aruna.
Alluding to the fact that the network of roads in Apapa belongs to the Federal Government, he lamented that the Tin Can Bridge, which has been under construction for about six years was abandoned, which makes tankers park indiscriminately on the road.
“It is totally unacceptable that we would be having tankers and trailers on our bridges. It is also not acceptable that they would decide to block all lanes that lead to Apapa. We’ve also seen that we must do something immediately to alleviate the challenges that the residents and business owners are facing.
“But again, you’ll also realise that the roads that lead to Apapa Wharf and Tincan Island actually belong to the Federal Government. We’ve come to this Tin Can Bridge, it has been under construction in the last six years, we’ve also seen a trailer park that can actually contain about 500 trailers at a time that has been abandoned by the Federal Government.
“What we want to do now is firstly to appeal to the Federal Government and most especially Mr. President that the contractor working on this particular bridge should come back to site and once we are able to open the trailer park, we would be able to allow other trailer and tankers to use the park.
The governor also expressed concerns about the activities at the 57 tank farms in the area, saying they constitute great security challenge for the state government, adding that owners of the farms will be summoned for a meeting soon.
“The greater part of this challenge is posed by the tank farm owners. As we speak we have 57 tank farms around Apapa alone, that’s a major security challenge for the state government.
“We have to start to look at the security issues relating to these tank farms. All trailers across the country come to these tank farms and the tank farm owners, we are going to direct them in the next few days, they would be summoned to a meeting and they have to tell us what their remedy is to this menace that we are having in Apapa.
As a palliative measure towards ensuring free flow of traffic, Governor Ambode said a task force would be immediately set up to ensure 24 hours surveillance of traffic flow while stressing that the Lagos Road Traffic Law will be enforced to the letter.
“Right now on our part, the immediate palliative is that we will set up a task force that would involve most of our security agencies including the police and to do a 24/7 monitoring of the traffic.
“We would pay more attention to enforcement. From this evening you would see that there would be more attention on enforcement and we would also fund that enforcement which we will fund. We are going to give incentives to our law enforcement officers to ensure that the Lagos Traffic Law is obeyed.
The governor also assured that road networks in deplorable state in Apapa will also be given attention.
Governor Ambode, who also visited traffic points in Ajah Roundabout assured that a joint task force will be immediately deployed to ensure free flow of traffic.
“We’ve all agreed, we need a flyover here, but we can’t deliver a flyover until maybe about 12 to 18 months.
In his remarks, Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Kayode Aderanti, observed that the Apapa road network and the activities of tanker drivers call for great security concern, expressing optimism that with improved road network, there will be little room for hoodlums to perpetrate crime.
“What we have observed in the last one year is due to the road network, the resultant effect is that most of these trailers always collapse and when this happens, you see a lot of hoodlums coming around to steal most of the items meant to be shipped to different parts of the country.
Commodore Ikoli, Commander, NNS Beecroft, Apapa Naval Base said, “For us in NNS Beecroft, the enforcement we are running under OP MESA, we are supporting the state government and the police in ensuring security within Apapa Area. Under that same apparatus, you would agree with me that we have also been present in ensuring the traffic gridlock in Apapa, we try to ensure that everybody that moves into Apapa has free flow of traffic. But, we are going to increase our efforts to ensure that every Nigerian that comes into Apapa has a safe and secure environment to work in.”
Bolaji Dada, Executive Secretary, Apapa Local Government also added, “We had a stakeholders meeting few days ago where we came up with resolutions on how to fix this menace. One of the resolutions was to visit the Governor and we have him here already. He has seen it and has first hand information and I’m sure from now, sanity will be brought back to our roads.”
21-day ultimatum to tricycle, okada riders
Meanwhile, the Lagos State government has issued a 21 day ultimatum to motorcyclists and tricycle operators in the state.
The state government made this known during a meeting with the unions in Lagos at the Secretariat, Alausa, Ikeja.
The state government said the move was imperative on the need for their members to vacate the restricted roads.
Secretary to the State Government, SSG, Mr. Tunji Bello explained the 21-day ultimatum was for the unions to sensitize their members to vacate the restricted routes before the enforcement commences.
Bello said “We have held a meeting with the okada unions on what should be done; we have held meeting with security agencies before now. Recently, we noticed a resurgence of okada riders going back to their old ways.”
He also lamented that “some of them even drive one way on Apapa Expressway. When you go to Apapa, Lagos-Badagry Express, Gbagada, and others, you will see them. We have to call them to let them know.
“The complaint was that when the election was coming, there was relaxation and they went back. They thought there had been relaxation. They asked us to give them sometimes. We felt there was need for two weeks of enlightenment, but they said it was too short. They asked for. Two months till August and we say no, we can only give three weeks maximum because we are not doing anything new, what we are doing is to reinforce the law, it is not that we are re-enacting the law,” Bello added.
Bello noted that when the law was introduced in. 2012, okada accidents dropped, as many hospitals felt the relief, saying that Igbobi and LUTH no longer have lots of patients.