July 29, 2009

Apapa Expressway Again

WE recently drew the attention of the Federal Government to the suffering Nigerians experience daily from the collapsed portions of the expressway that leads to the Apapa and Tin Can Island Ports.

Minister of Works, Dr. Mohammed Hassan Lawal on visit to the road was trapped for about two hours in the traffic jam that is a permanent feature between Cele and Coker Bus Stops. By the time he arrived in Mile Two, his officials advised him not to proceed further as it was impossible to reach Apapa.

Dr. Lawal and his officials did Nigerians who use this road a great disservice. He should have been allowed  to complete his tour because the parts of the road near Apapa and Tin Can Ports are about the worst. The road is so bad that hardly a day passes without a trailer or tanker falling across the road, further complicating situations.

These accidents result in loss of lives and property.

Amazingly, our leaders ignore the importance of this expressway to the nation’s economy. It is the most important road in the country because about 70 per cent of goods, including the petroleum products we use in this country pass through it from the ports. All manners of trucks and tankers from all over the country converge in Apapa and environs daily to evacuate goods.

What logic does government need to know that the road leading to such a strategic economic zone should never be permitted to fall into disrepair?

Apapa harbours the biggest operational points of the Customs Service, which the Federal Government gives bigger revenue targets every year.

With the roads in such a bad shape and movement so difficult, both officers and men of the Customs and other similar agencies working in the ports as well as their target customers are unable to operate smoothly. How will the targets be met?

The Federal Government should team up with the Lagos State Government to fashion out both short-term and long-term strategies to rescue the Lagos ports by rehabilitating the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway and other roads leading into and out of Apapa.

Experience has shown that the Federal Road Maintenance Agency, FERMA, simply filling potholes goes a long way in easing the traffic crunch, so long as the rains do not wash them away.

However, such temporary measures are not sustainable maintenance regime for a road that endures daily beatings from heavy traffic.

Some of the portions have failed irredeemably. Other parts are showing signs of deteriorating to worse stages. Only proper reconstruction can restore them.

Minister Hassan Lawal must match his words with quick action. He should not go back to Abuja and fall asleep on his job again. The livelihood of millions of Nigerians is at stake. The Minister should fix the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway immediately.

In future, it would be important for government to have workable maintenance schedules that would ensure our major roads are in useable state.

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