September 12, 2018

Resurgence of rain worsens Oshodi-Apapa traffic gridlock

fuel tankers

File photo of fuel tankers at Mile 2 end of Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, Lagos. PHOTO: Joe Akintola, Photo Editor.

By Evelyn Usman & Kingsley Adegboye
AGOS — THE relative respite enjoyed by motorists plying the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway following the intervention of the Federal and Lagos State Governments seems to have been cut short no thanks to persistent rainfalls experienced in the Lagos metropolis in recent time.

The Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, yesterday.

The resurgence of the traffic gridlock following the rains has been compounded by the absence, from their duty posts, of security officials assigned to control trucks and other articulated vehicles and ensure orderliness on the dual carriageway.

Indeed, security officials are hardly seen during the rush hour on the road, leaving trucks and tanker drivers to their devices.

In most cases, they take over all lanes of the dual carriageway at the expense of other road users, who consequently suffer excruciating pains, while trying to navigate to their destinations.

The situation is particularly pathetic when it is rainy and at night, as they take advantage of the situation to drive against traffic which results to confusion on the dual carriageway.

Hoodlums descend on hapless motorists

Consequently, the hoodlums often take advantage of slow-moving traffic to rob hapless commuters.

The robbers employ various techniques for  operations such as breaking side glasses of cars, distracting motorists’ attention to pick phones and other valuable items from their cars.

At times, one of them will pretend to be crossing the road only to get the driver to stop and as soon he does, others will swoop on the vehicle to rob.

Vanguard Editor attacked, robbed

An Editor with Vanguard was attacked, on Monday, at Mile 2 inward Berger Yard.

The hoodlums, who swooped on his vehicle gained access into the vehicle having shattered the side glass of his vehicle.

They got away with valuables and money after the attack.

Gridlock continues

Traffic on major routes in and out of Apapa ports has grounded to a standstill.

The stretch of the traffic as at yesterday had extended from Mile 2 to Tin Can Island Port with all the lanes on the ever-busy Apapa-Oshodi expressway blocked by trucks and tankers.

Vanguard findings revealed that the resurgence of the gridlock was not far-fetched as only truck and tank drivers, who pay a certain amount of money to security officials, who pretend to be controlling them are given the right of passage to the port.

A port security officer attached to one of the terminals at the Lagos Port Complex, LPC, Apapa accused security operatives of turning the gridlock situation to a money-spinning business.

Also, the traffic situation along the Apapa/Oshodi expressway reached its peak yesterday, as protesting  tanker drivers blocked the ever busy route for hours, over alleged beating of one of their own to a coma a Naval officer.

Consequently, motorists went through the most horrifying moment as they were trapped for close to eight hours.

News earlier filtered in that the driver was beaten to death.

Narrating the incident, one of the tanker drivers, Ismaila Goje, said: “This is what we go through everyday. If we are coming from Ojora bridge, Ijora-Olopa and Marine road, they would stop us to collect money from us before allowing us  to pass. If you think I am lying, just go to Mile Two bridge, inward Apapa and tell the security men that you are bringing your truck in, you would pay nothing less than N10,000 before they would allow the truck passage.

“When you get to the Kirikiri and before you get to Coconut bus stop, they would collect between N1000 and N5000 at each point. They do it openly and at times, they would send touts to collect on their behalf.

“Some naval men asked our driver to give them money and he said he had already given their colleagues before he got to that point. While still engaged with the naval personnel, his colleagues pounced on him, flogging him until he became unconscious. When they discovered he was motionless, they left him at that point.”

The Lagos Zonal Chairman of NUPENG, Mr. Tayo Aboyeji, who confirmed the incident, said: “This has been a daily occurrence. We protested but with the intervention from the Navy High Command, we had to let go, in order to give them the benefit of the doubt.”

Navy reacts

When Vanguard contacted the Western Naval Command Information Officer, Commander, Chinwe Umar, on the alleged attack of the truck driver by a naval personnel, she said she was not aware of the incident.

She however promised to get back after making the necessary findings.

But when asked why members of NUPENG refused to comply with traffic rules and directive given by the Presidential Taskforce, to keep to a lane, in order to allow other road users access,  Aboyeji exonerated his members of culpability.

Rather, he blamed the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, for the cause of the perennial gridlock along the Apapa/Oshodi expressway.

He said: “The presence of tankers on the road all this while , is caused by NPA which refuses to open the port for container drivers to enter. Tanker drivers do not have any business with the Ports. But anytime our drivers are going to the depot to load, they usually face hitch in movement because of the container drivers. Ordinarily, if we are allowed free passage, drivers will move straight into the depot, load and leave. Until container drivers resolve this issue with the NPA, the situation will remain.

Motorists’ lamentation

Meanwhile   the traffic situation along the Apapa/Oshodi expressway has remained unabated.

For two weeks now, motorists have been going through untold pains and horror along the major expressway.  As if that was not enough, criminals have hijacked the situation to rob helpless and defenseless motorists who are trapped.

These criminals who apparently threw caution to the wind , operate freely , both in the day time and at night. At least five Vanguard’s staff have fallen victims in one week.

The Lagos State Police Command recently positioned some of its men on strategic places where these hoodlums operate, during which three of them were arrested. But the recalcitrant thieves now operate where there are no presence of security operatives.

A victim, Mr Ogbona Aham, who had some of his goods  cleared from the Ports, stolen by these hoodlums  , Monday,  lamented “ This car was cleared from the Ports since 2pm. But I spent five hours before I got to Berger yard , where I met another huddle. I was trapped there from 7pm to 11.30pm because of these trucks that took over the  two lanes. While waiting patiently, I got a call from my wife. As I was answering the call, three boys appeared from no  where , broke my side of the glass and ordered me to come down . I refused. They shattered the glass, took some of the goods and my phone before disappearing into the dark”.

Another Lagosian, a Clearing and Forwarding agent, who gave his name as  Chiemezie said: “I have long stopped driving to the Ports. Everyday, I spend more than six times what I ordinarily would because of this unending traffic situation. One would have expected this to be a thing of the past, with the visit of the Vice President”.

Another, a food vendor at Tin-Can First gate, had this to say “Business has been dull as most people have stopped coming to the port because of the traffic situation. This is affecting me greatly because this is my family’s only means of survival, since my husband was out of job for three years”.

When Vanguard contacted the Western Naval Command Information Officer, Commander, Chinwe Umar, on the alleged attack of the truck driver by a naval personnel, she said she was not aware of the incident.

She however promised to get back after making the necessary findings.