By Olasunkanmi Akoni and Monsuru Olowoopejo
Following refusal of the operators of tankers and articulated to leave Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, the Lagos State Government, on Wednesday , dusclosed plans to commence the process of removing tankers, illegally parked along Apapa-Mile 2 axis.
Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode had one week ago, ordered the operators to immediately vacate the highway, and directed Joint Security taskforce to ensure implementation of the order.
Meantime, owners and drivers of articulated vehicles illegally parked on the roads at Apapa and environs have been given up to the Friday, November 24 to remove them from the road, failure to do so would lead to full enforcement of laws.
The situation further worsened yesterday, as tankers stormed the area streching as far back as Ijesha from Coconut, Apapa Wharf leading to total breakdown of law and order.
Speaking in Lagos after a visit to the area, the General Manager of Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), Mr. Olawale Musa said the move was part of measures to ensure free flow of traffic and safety of lives and property of residents in the axis.
He added that the action, aimed at freeing Apapa-Oshodi Expressway of avoidable traffic gridlocks, and making the axis accessible to other road users.
According to him, no responsible government would fold its arms and allow lawlessness and impunity to reign within its territory.
The General Manger tressed that Ambode’s administration is alive to its responsibilities and will not shy away from attending to the plight of the people.
According to him, this informed the setting up of a Special Task Force comprising of Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Nigerian Navy, Police, Civil Defence and LASTMA under the Chairmanship of the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Edgar Imohimi to rid Apapa and environ of activities of illegal parking and menace of articulated vehicles.
He expressed optimism that with the creation of the Special Taskforce’s support and cooperation of other security agencies, all stakeholders with LASTMA, issues of illegal parking of vehicles and other lawlessness would soon become a thing of the past.
Musa stated that at the recent stakeholders’ meeting, articulated vehicles were discovered to be returning empty containers to the port further compounded the gridlock in the axis because many of them were often forced to wait up to 10 days to discharge empty containers.
According to Musa, “This made them to park on the main carriageways for days and in the process impeding free flow of traffic. This was largely due to the fact that shipping companies that were supposed to provide holding bays for the empty containers in accordance with the license issued for them to operate in the country have either refused to provide or the ones existing were inadequate.
“The stakeholders have therefore resorted that henceforth, these vehicles are to use the following holding bays and terminals which includes, Comet Terminal, Joatelim, Ballore Transport and Logistics, HBX Terminal, Unity Bonded Terminal, Falcon Terminal, Port and Marine services and Duncan Terminal for their activities.”
The LASTMA boss, said that stakeholders also agreed that all trucks currently loading at the port will be issued a docket indicating where they should return their empty containers instead of waiting ceaselessly on the roads to return them.
Musa assured residents of Apapa and Lagos State in general that the current effort and exercise to restore sanity and orderliness to Apapa would be a continuous one, warning that anyone who defies government directive not to impede free flow of traffic will be dealt with according to the law.
He therefore, enjoined all stakeholders especially the Shipping Council and Shipping Lines to sensitize and educate their members on the new directive.
“People should stop putting individual interest over and above public interest. Members of the public should also take possession of the already cleared roads, and not hesitate to inform the Agency of any broken down or abandoned tankers and trucks on Apapa – Oshodi Expressway as LASTMA has been empowered and positioned to response promptly to any distress, ” Musa stated.