By Godwin Oritse

CHAIRMAN of the Presidential Task Force on the Restoration of Law and Order on Apapa Port access road, Mr Kayode Opeifa, has said that the construction of shoreline protection, water and electricity are the only issues delaying the take-off of the Tin-Can Island truck park

Apapa gridlock

Speaking in Lagos during a media tour of the port access road, Opeifa said that once these issues were fixed, the truck park will become functional within two weeks at most.

Opeifa also disclosed that the electronic call-up system will commence in August after all necessary arrangements would have been concluded.

He said that the park was part of the strategic measures on tackling the Apapa traffic gridlock adding that gradually a holistic solution to resolve the crisis will be in effect.

Opeifa who started the tour from the Lilypond truck park also said that currently, no truck has direct access to the ports. He explained that every truck that comes into Apapa will first go into any of the truck parks, from where it will be called up to pick up containers in a systematic manner where there will be a smooth flow of traffic.

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“No truck has direct access to the ports anymore. The space in and around the port is enough to take the number of trucks and tankers. The problem is that we must manage the situation in such a way that there must be a continuous and smooth flow of traffic.

“Apapa port is about 56 hectares while that of Tin-Can port s about 26 hectares. The business in Apapa is all about trucks which some people call haulage”, he stated.

Opeifa further disclosed that two more trailer parks are coming up adding that more of such spaces were also being identified by the government just as private parks were also being encouraged to come on board.

On timing the movement of trucks within certain hours of the day, Opeifa said that restricting the movement of trucks without constructing a designated route for them will not work.

He said that the illegal Customs checkpoints on the port access roads have also contributed to the traffic situation in Apapa, adding that the Customs’ management has been informed of this development but nothing has been done to checkmate these checkpoints.

Extortion has reduced

On the issue of extortion and bribery, Opeifa said that the menace has reduced noting that the issue of extortion was rampant when the military was involved in the management of traffic.

He, however, disclosed that drivers of these trucks were also part of the extortion process noting that when drivers are given an N100,000.00 to settle these military boys, N50,000.00 is given while N50,000.00 is held back for themselves.

Opeifa said “I was with the leadership of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, ANLCA, and I was told about the involvement of truck drivers in this extortion menace. But what I can tell you is that extortion has been drastically reduced. The truth is that there was a big extortion that went on when the Military personnel were in charge of the traffic”.

Road reconstruction

Opeifa said that work on the reconstruction of some major port access road like Creek and Liverpool roads have commenced, adding that the Creek Road re-construction will run through Mile 2 and up to Oworoshoki.

He said that the project is being undertaken by Dangote Group and will be completed in 24 months.

Commenting on the development, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers Council, NSC, Mr Hassan Bello, said that the Task Force is looking for a comprehensive solution to the traffic gridlock.

“We are starting the manual call-up in the next two weeks while the electronic will commence in the next two months.”

Preferential treatments

Opeifa explained that trucks belonging to manufacturing concerns were being given preference because they bring raw materials that are urgently needed to complete their manufacturing processes and these goods must also be evacuated to meet demand.

“Recently there was a delay in the production of Indomie noodles by one of the companies and what did we experience, a hike in the price of the products”, he stated.

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