By Evelyn Usman & Olasunkanmi Akoni
LAGOS— MOTORISTS, residents and all those who had activities along the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway were, yesterday, caught up in a terrible traffic snarl following the resurgence of tankers and articulated vehicles, which made the highway practically inaccessible to other road users.
The gridlock, which crippled commercial activities and led to a breakdown of law and order in the axis, was in apparent defiance of the directive of Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, to the operators to immediately vacate the area and create a corridor for other motorists and road users to operate.
The task-force set up by the Federal and Lagos State governments to restore sanity had seemingly abandoned the road.
The current gridlock
The current gridlock started last Sunday when a long queue of the trucks extended from Mile 2 to Ijesa area along the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway.
The truck operators, who are supposed to reserve a lane on the highway and service lane took over the entire lanes, trapping other motorists in traffic snarl for several hours. The situation is even worse in the night, especially on the other side of the road, Apapa-Oshodi Expressway.
It was alleged that some security agents after extorting money from the truck drivers allow them to park or drive against traffic.
In the wake of the logjam, the Federal and Lagos State governments inaugurated a Joint Task-force: ‘Operation Restore Sanity on Lagos Roads’, to ensure the free flow of traffic along Apapa-Oshodi Expressway and environs.
Initially meant to function for 48 hours, the operation of the task-force was later extended by 30 days to ensure and the sanity recorded in the axis.
The 30 days extension was announced after a three-hour meeting with stakeholders at the Lagos House, Alausa, Lagos following concerns raised by stakeholders that the earlier successes recorded could be truncated without adequate enforcement.
Earlier interventions by the Federal and Lagos State governments and some private stakeholders had always been short-lived.
Why insanity returned
One of the tanker drivers said: “We give the security men between three to five thousand naira for them to allow us access to the road (dedicated road for other motorists).
Men of the Joint Task-force, including Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA, who were also drafted to maintain sanity and control traffic along the road, were not seen at the chaotic spots, as they seemed to have abandoned their duty posts.
Many commuters had to alight and trekked long distances to beat the traffic and get to their various destinations.
Most commercial bus drivers, popularly called, “Danfo,” took advantage of the disorderliness and drove against traffic on the other side of the highway, onward Apapa to Oshodi Expressway.
Motorists recount ordeal
Most of the motorists, who spoke with Vanguard over the development expressed disappointment and anguish and urged the governments to deal with the situation once and for all.
Mr. Emmanuel Alozie, a staff of an organization in Apapa, lamented: “In spite of the directive of Vice President Osinbajo, I have never seen this kind of lawlessness and flagrant disregard for executive order. I was stranded in that traffic for over four hours from Ijesha to Fatgbem Filling Station at Mile 2. The tankers just took over everywhere, unmindful of other road users. I stayed on a spot for about 45 minutes before there was a slight movement. The situation is simply crazy.”
Mr. Olujimi Ajayi, a businessman in Apapa, narrated his experience thus: “I have lost everything to this terrible traffic. I am supposed to meet up for a business appointment in Apapa but was caught up in the traffic. I have cancelled the meeting and rescheduled it for another day. I would have lost the business if I couldn’t reschedule it.
“The government should be more proactive and live up to their responsibility. Lagosians and Nigerians are suffering on this road. Enough is enough.”
Contacted on phone, LASTMA General Manager, Wale Musa, through his Public Relations Officer, Hassan Mamaud, explained: “We are aware of the traffic situation on the axis and we are addressing it. LASTMA and other agencies are supporting the joint task-force.
“The Commander NNS Becroft, Apapa, reconstituted a fresh task-force today (yesterday). Our men have been drafted to work with the new team any moment from now. I can assure you that within 24 hours, sanity will be restored on Apapa-Oshodi Expressway and Apapa environs. We are seriously working towards achieving the aim. Residents should just bear with us.”
We’re taking measures to address the problem — CP
Also speaking, Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Police Command, Imohimi Edgal, said measures were being put in place to ensure a free flow of traffic flow along the Oshodi/Apapa Expressway and other adjourning routes leading to the ports.
“The problem of traffic occasioned by trucks is well known, that was why the Vice President visited Lagos on three occasions. Also, a task-force has been set up involving all agencies including the Navy, which is moving into operation to ensure that the situation is ameliorated, while other issues which relate to operations in the ports, tank farms and fixing of bad roads, are progressing speedily.
Within the shortest possible time, Lagosians will begin to feel the positive effect of the task-force and there will be a better flow”, he said.