November 16, 2017

FG, Lagos Govt move to tackle Apapa traffic gridlock

Osinabajo in an aerial assessment of the Apapa traffic for situation

By Olasunkanmi Akoni & Esther Onyegbula

LAGOS—IN apparent response to public outcry over the total breakdown of law and order on the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway by tanker and other truck drivers, as highlighted by Vanguard Newspaper in the last few days, the Federal and Lagos State governments have taken steps to tackle the resultant gridlock and other security threats along the Mile 2 and other adjourning roads.

Osinabajo in an aerial assessment of the Apapa traffic for situation

In the last one month, gridlock along Mile 2 axis of the ever busy dual carriage way  has crippled business operations and endangered  innocents lives because of total disregard to traffic law by truck drivers aided by unscrupulous security operatives who allow the drivers to park indiscriminately on both sides of the expressway after being compromised.

While Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, Tuesday night said the Buhari administration would find all possible solutions to end the gridlock, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos, yesterday directed heads of security agencies in the state to immediately deploy adequate personnel to tackle the gridlock and other security threats.

Meeting with private sector

Prof. Osinbajo spoke at a Government/Private sector meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on how to speedily and comprehensively resolve the issue.

The Vice President directed that the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing and the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, implement clear objectives to tackle the Apapa traffic gridlock, saying “We should look at all the components and find a quick solution.”

In his remarks, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, noted that Nigeria ports had capacity for 34 million metric tonnes of cargoes per annum, but it was now processing about 80 million metric tonnes per annum.

He also identified poor traffic management as a major cause of the persistent gridlock along Apapa access roads.

In the same vein, the Managing Director of NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman, said the NPA would constitute a strong task force to address the issue.

Both Fashola and Usman assured the Vice President that the issues would be tackled in a holistic way, not only to fix the problem, but also to support the Federal Government’s Ease of Doing Business reforms.

Private sector stakeholders, including the President, Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote; Chairman, Honeywell Group, Dr. Oba Otudeko; and the Chairman, BUA Group, Alhaji Abdulsamad Rabiu, were present at the meeting and they all made commitments.

As part of its Corporate Social Responsibility, the  Dangote Group will carry out palliative works and reconstruction of some major sections of the Apapa road, which is expected to be completed by June/July 2018.

In the same vein, Honeywell Group will construct a trailer park, while BUA Group will carry out construction works on the Tin Can road.

Others actions to be taken by the Ministry of Works and the NPA include: To reduce congestion and ease traffic; empty containers within  the Apapa area  to be relocated to holding bays; Shipping companies no longer to be allowed to operate holding bays within the Apapa Port location.

Other lines of action are: Tanks farms not to be permitted within the Apapa area; process of licencing access to trailer parks and port location by the NPA to commence; Advertisement seeking for expression of interests from private sector to operate trailer parks and holding bays within the Tin Can Island area to be issued; and a task force to manage the flow of traffic within the Apapa and Tin Can Island environs to be established.

Also present at the meeting were the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, and representatives of the Inspector-General of Police and the Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service.

Reconstitution of task force

Similarly, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos, yesterday reconstituted the Joint Security Task Force established to manage the chaotic traffic situation and restore sanity on the road.

The Task Force is made up of Police, military, officials of Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA and the Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC.

State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Imohimi Edgal, disclosed the governor’s directive while speaking with State House Correspondents after the monthly Security Council meeting, chaired by Governor Ambode and attended by heads of security formations in the state.

Edgal explained that while the issues that gave rise to the gridlock were being addressed, the Task Force would ensure that the roads in the axis were not totally locked down, and also prevent criminal elements from taking advantage of the gridlock to perpetrate their nefarious activities.

Edgal addressed the media in company of commanders of security formations in the State.

He said: “We deliberated extensively on the Apapa gridlock and the Governor has approved with immediate effect the reconstitution of a Joint Task Force made up of police, the military, LASTMA and FRSC officials to ensure that whilst the major problems that gave rise to that situation in the first instance are being tackled, we on our part as security agencies, will ensure that we have a good semblance of decency on our roads.

“We will ensure that we create a corridor for smaller vehicles and ensure that there is no complete blockade to free flow of traffic. We will also have plain cloth and uniformed security agencies ensuring that there is no crime in the axis due to the traffic gridlock.”

The CP, who assured residents that every necessary arrangement had been made to ensure peaceful yuletide season, said the Council also approved increased visibility and patrol in all parts of the State, especially in areas there are traffic gridlock as a result of construction activities.

According to Edgal, due to increased patrol, about 35 notorious traffic robbers were recently arrested in Ilupeju and Oshodi axis, many of whom are ex-convicts and would soon be charged to court at the end of investigation.

Lagos enforces road traffic law

Speaking on the ongoing clampdown on commercial motorcycles popularly known as “Okada “ on restricted routes, Edgal said security agencies in the state had been given marching orders to strictly enforce the traffic law, and that no lawlessly or breakdown of law and order would be condoned.

Edgal said aside the security measures already put in place for residents and visitors to experience a peaceful yuletide season, “any resident who sell, distribute or use industrial fireworks would be arrested and charged to court. The ban on such is still very much in force.”