By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA — GOVERNOR Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, yesterday, denied promising to decongest the Oshodi-Apapa expressway within his first 60 days in office but said his government would carry out a review of previous activities on the road within 60 days
He said this after a closed door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on plans to develop Lekki and Badagry seaports in order to decongest the Apapa port.
This came as Governor Sanwo-Olu announced that the reconstruction of the stalled Lagos-Badagry Expressway will resume in the next two weeks.
The road has been an eye sore and a nightmare to the people of Lagos particularly motorists, commuters and residents plying the route.
Briefing State House correspondents, Sanwo-Olu said: “From time to time, one must also see one’s boss and it is also an honour to have an audience with Mr President. Yesterday’s visit is essentially to brief him on the few initiatives that we are planning to do in Lagos and to get his buy-in and his concurrence.
“Our discussion bothered on areas around development of Lagos and collaboration with the Federal Government that requires His Excellency’s approval and support.
“That is what I have come to brief him about and it is essentially to improve the quality of life and business devein Lagos.”
Fixing Lagos/Badagry road
Speaking specifically on the state of the Lagos/Badagry road, Sanwo-Olu said: “I was on that road two days after I was sworn-in and we have gone round. I’ve been there twice now in about two weeks. So, the commitment we got was that the contractors would move into site before the end of this month and
I believe that we should be closing out the discussions with the contractor over the weekend.
“We are hoping that barring any unforeseen circumstance, they should move in in another two to three weeks’ time, meaning that the clean-up and the construction of the Badagary expressway returns back in earnest.”
Decongestion of Oshodi-Apapa expressway
On the decongestion of Oshodi-Apapa expressway, Sanwo-Olu said certain false claims had been circulating in the media that he promised, during the electioneering, that he would decongest the road within his first 60 days in office.
He explained that what he said was to promise that his government would carry out a review of previous activities on the road within 60 days.
He said: “Interestingly, some media houses are actually counting down on me. They said that I mentioned, during the campaign, that I was going to clear it (Oshodi-Apapa expressway) in 60 days. I have mentioned it before, what I said was that, in 60 days, we would review what was done but that does not take the fact that even if people give you dateline, it’s because they want you to do well and they want you to be accountable to those datelines.
“It is one of the things I thanked Mr President for. What was done was that the Federal Government has set up a task team. It is a multifaceted challenge. There are different stakeholders involved in one way or the other. They include operators, observers, practitioners and stakeholders and most of them are federal agencies in one form or the other. But it is we, the citizens of Lagos State that are bearing the entire burden.
“The real construction of the road has started, but it is not at the stage in which we can feel the full impact of it. The movement of the trucks has also started. There is a lily pond terminal that has been created with the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, and other terminal operators which I imagined have started doing what we call the call-up system.
“What I understand by the call up is that it is a system that needs to be a bit more electronically driven. I think it’s currently run manually now but if we can get a software that can enhance it and enforce it, the call-up system can become something that can hold the truck drivers accountable. If you’re not called on to come into the port, you are not meant to come.
“But beyond that, it is to look at the entire value chain, who are the users and who are the operators in that space. So, you have the shipping companies, the port terminal operators, the Nigeria Shippers Council, you have the NPA who are the major anchor tenant there, then you also have all sort of operators – LASTMA who are supposed to be the arm of Lagos State helping hand, the police, who ought to help out with security and one or two others. So, we all need to complement each other.
“We also need to talk to the drivers there; they have a union – if you don’t have a need to come to Apapa you don’t have to come now. So, the culture has to be instilled, the kind of people that drive these trailers need to be talked to and we need to explain to them also that it’s affecting the quality of life of ordinary citizens that need to commune around that whole area. The member of the fourth realm can also help us.
“By next week, I will be meeting with the shippers’ council, port operators and the shipping lines just so that we all can be on the same page and understand that we are all in this together and we all must find a permanent solution.
“The Apapa port itself has grown beyond its capacity. That is why Lagos State is speaking with investors to see how we can push either the Lekki Port or the Badagary Port as the long term alternative to the Apapa Port because that would be the long term solution in terms of our growth of development as a nation.”