By Emma Nnadozie. Crime Editor, Olasunkanmi Akoni
Palliatives aimed at easing the lingering traffic gridlock along Oshodi-Apapa expressway heightened, yesterday, after the police in Lagos swung into action by manning all the flash points. Though their efforts paid off, the congestion continued in some flash points as a result of road damage and the increasing number of trucks and fuel tanks heading towards the Port.
Reaction from LASG
This is just as Lagos State Commissioner for Energy, Olawale Oluwo stated that the government is deeply concerned over the persistent traffic gridlock around Apapa axis in spite of previous measures adopted at tackling the menace stressing that there are some major factors needed to permanently solve the chaotic situation. Olawale who spoke, recently, during the third anniversary of Governor Ambode’s administration in the state stated that the state government was not responsible for the gridlock that is currently being experienced in Apapa especially, as it concerns the oil and gas sector.
“When the ports were established, the state didn’t have ministry of energy and mineral resources to monitor activities within the axis. But, I know that Federal Government agencies are monitoring activities within the ports and are ensuring that safety measures are adhered to. The Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, granted licenses to tank farms to operate in Apapa. DPR is a department under the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources saddled with the responsibility of exploration and importation of petroleum products.
“Rather than concentrate on the problem, we (state government) have decided to shift our attention to the solutions. One of the answers to the gridlock that has affected the axis is to fix the pipelines in that area. We must have at least two pipelines. While one will transfer the product to Lagos borders, the other will supply the airport; with this, there will never be any shortage of aviation fuel. It may be expensive. Presently, we don’t know the cost, but consultants are working on it and later they will make the cost known.
“Another solution we discovered was effective rail system for the axis. The rail will have to take containers from the port to border or outside Lagos. And luckily, the Federal Government is building a rail track from Otto in Mainland axis to Ibadan. So, we have persuaded the goversnment to extend the facility to Apapa ports. They have accepted and they have included it in the scope of their work. While the pipelines will deal with fuel, the rail will deal with the containers; with that, the problem will be solved completely.”
DPO’s at work
As early as 5am, traffic policemen were seen positioned at strategic areas of the road directing traffic to various locations. A corridor was created from the NNPC side of the expressway leading towards Mile 2 bridge en-route Apapa while vehicles descending the bridge towards Orile had easy passage way. Traffic flowed smoothly on the service lane towards both Berger Yard and Orile.
Divisional Police Officers and other senior officers were seen busy coordinating and supervising their men in all the flash points. Interestingly, some youths clad in vests with the bold inscription ‘Police helping hands ‘were seen at both the Fatgbems filling station axis and Mile 2 bridge, busy assisting regular traffic policemen and other plain-clothes officers in controlling and directing traffic. They told Vanguard that they were recruited by the police in Festac to assist in decongesting traffic along the expressway. The Divisional Police Officer in charge of Festac, CSP Obong Okon was seen with his team supervising and directing the volunteers on how to carry out the exercise.
The Divisional Police Officer in charge of Kirikiri division, CSP Musediq Orobiyi and his team were also conspicuously seen busy supervising traffic flow from the Otto Wolf side of Customs office towards Berger Yard and Kirikiri area. It was learned that early in the day when traffic heightened along Kirikiri bridge towards Berger Suya, both the DPO Kirikiri and his counterpart at Trinity, CSP Oni Abayomi, engaged the services of some youths to fill up some of the deep gullies and pot holes that make traffic flow impossible under the bride at Berger Suya. The exercise, it was gathered also involved policemen who assisted in breaking huge stones used in filling up the craters. It paved way for the free flow of traffic for hours.
However, later in the day, the gridlock re-surfaced along Kirikiri route towards Berger Suya making it virtually impossible for the trucks and fuel tankers to pass freely as a result of trucks that got stuck at the top of the bridge because of the pot holes at Berger Suya. This affected the free movement of vehicles in almost all the areas as the gridlock extended to both NNPC and Berger Yard area. A team of policemen were, however, able to clear the area around 3pm.
Marching orders from CP
Recall that the Commissioner of Police, Imohimi Edgal had earlier given all Area Commanders and Divisional Police Officers around the route marching orders to swing into action and decongest traffic along the route. Following this directive, no fewer than seven Divisional Police Officers converged at the head office of Vanguard Newspapers at Kirikiri Canal during a three- hour interactive session Monday evening, action plans aimed at decisively tackling the lingering traffic situation in the area were marshalled out.
An onlooker who witnessed efforts made to salvage the situation told Vanguard that in as much as the police deserves a pat on the back for waking up to the challenges, their efforts should be sustained while government should immediately embark on repair of bad spots in the area to help in solving the ugly situation. According to him, all efforts should be geared towards checking the flow of heavy duty trucks and fuel tanks into service lanes from NNPC and Fatgbems filling station side. Once this is done, traffic will definitely flow freely.