By Olasunkanmi Akoni & Monsur Olowoopejo
LAGOS — Worried by the continued gridlock along Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, the Lagos State Government, yesterday, issued a 48-hour ultimatum to owners of tankers and heavy duty vehicles parked along Apapa-Oshodi expressway to remove them or risk their confiscation by the state government.
Commissioner for Transportation, Mr Kayode Opeifa, who gave the warning at the first stakeholders’ summit organised by the Motor Vehicle Administration Agency, MVAA, in Lagos said the ultimatum also applied to owners of containers, stationary vehicles and other barriers along the expressway.
It would be recalled that the state government had at different occasions ordered owners and drivers of trailers to vacate the road completely. Opeifa had given a similar ultimatum at a stakeholders‘ meeting on July 15, 2011.
He urged the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG; Petroleum Tankers Drivers, PTD; Association of Maritime Truck Owners, AMARTO and others to advise their members to comply with the directive.
Opeifa said a joint task force comprising officials of the federal and the state governments would enforce the directive at the expiration of the ultimatum, adding that non-compliance would lead to confiscation of vehicles.
He explained that confiscated vehicles and other barriers on the corridor would be evacuated by the government, saying cost of evacuation would be borne by their owners.
He said: “Men of the Nigeria Police, Port authorities, Port Managers, Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, and Vehicle Inspection Office will be moving to that road immediately to monitor and effect compliance with the directive and the exercise is going to last throughout Friday.”
The commissioner urged residents and other road users to bear with the government as arrangement had been completed to ensure that the road was given an urgent attention and manage traffic while work was going on.
It will be recalled that Mr Mike Onolomenmen, the Minister of Works had on a visit to Governor Babatunde Fashola last Friday appealed to the state government to help remove barriers on the road for immediate rehabilitation by the Federal Government.
Ibirogba, lamented the “continued colossal loss” to the nation’s economy from several man-hours lost in traffic daily occasioned by deep ditches on the road.
According to Ibirogba, while the state government tried to manage the traffic challenges as a result of the situation on the road, what needed to be done was total reconstruction of the failed road.
He said: “It is not only Apapa-Oshodi Expressway. Check through Lagos and you will see that most of the federal roads are in terrible state of disrepair including Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway.
“The other day it rained, the road nearly caved in. I think there is the need for the Federal Government to urgently intervene. All Nigerians are living here. I am therefore appealing to the Federal Government to come to the aid of over 18 million Nigerians living in this city.
“I haven’t seen any city in West Africa with this huge population. I think the Federal Government should even be wondering how Lagos is coping with this huge population and its impact on available infrastructure. I believe Lagos deserves a special status given its unique role and place in Nigeria,” Ibirogba said.