By Godfrey Bivbere & Ebuka Oko
Few hours to the expiration of the 72 hours deadline issued by the presidency directing trucks and tankers operators to vacate the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, there were no indications that the trucks which have constituted nuisance on the road were in a hurry to leave.
The directive was contained in a statement signed by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Office of the Vice President, Laolu Akande, in Abuja. The directive mandated the immediate removal of all trucks from the bridges and roads within Apapa and all adjoining streets leading to the Apapa axis.
The presidential directive was as a result of an emergency meeting convened by President Muhammadu Buhari and chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on April 25 2019. The new presidential directive on 72 hours deadline was given on Thursday and should end today.
An investigation by Vanguard yesterday however revealed that the situation was even worse with commuters spending several hours on the road as trucks were parked everywhere. The trucks completely blocked all the lanes of the expressway from 2nd Rainbow to Tin-can Island making the road impassable.
This situation notwithstanding, the stakeholders have however expressed optimism that everything would be done to ensure the directive was complied with
Meanwhile, the task force put in place to ensure compliance with the presidential directive met with truck operators yesterday in Lagos and said any truck driver whose truck was parked on the road after the deadline would be impounded.
Speaking at the meeting, former Commissioner for Transport in Lagos State, Kayode Opeifa, who represented the chairman of the Task Force, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo explained that the first task was to ensure that all the trucks and tankers were cleared from the port roads within the deadline issued by the Federal Government.
He acknowledged that there might be challenges but assured that the directive would be implemented to the letter.
According to him, “We will ensure that from the port corridor to the toll gate is free, that the trucks do not disturb ordinary Lagosian on the road. Two, the next level is to ensure that from Ikorodu road down to Ijora is also free and that the operations in the ports are decently managed so that we do not have any disruption coming from port or its axis.
“There is no doubt there will be capacity issue with the terminal operators, there will be issue of efficiency among all stakeholders, and there will also be infrastructural issues like roads, trains and all the rest.
“But we (stakeholders and task force) have all agreed that we can still operate in the appropriate manner if we all play our part and that is the essence of the last two meetings. In addition to that, all the stakeholders have agreed that as long as there is transparency, and we follow the Standard Operating Procedure, SOP, and our officers work in line with the guidelines, we will achieve our goal.
“If there is any issue, we will surmount it until we have our efficient system. Our responsibility is not to run the port, or stay here for too long. Our responsibility is to work within the shortest possible time and to create the right environment for the next phases which are the medium term and the long term solutions to kick in,” he stated.
Speaking earlier, a member of the task force, Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, in response to a plea by the Chairman of Association of Maritime Truck Owners, Remi Ogungbemi, that trucks parked under bridges be allowed to stay, said all trucks should be moved out of the roads including under bridges at the expiration of the deadline. The police Commissioner told the trucks owners to organise themselves and work with the terminal operators
He said only trucks that can be accommodated in the port at every given time should be on the road as any truck parked on the road will be impounded.