By our reporters
The Apapa-Oshodi gridlock appears to get more compounded each passing day this is as a result of the fact that miscreants have hijacked the control and management of the traffic from the task team officials assigned for the duty.
Monday till early hours of Tuesday (yesterday) was hellish for motorists and other road users on the ever busy Oshodi-Apapa Expressway as the entire expressway was on lock down. Not even pedestrians could navigate their way to their destinations as trucks and tankers moving towards Tin- Can occupied every available space on the only service lane that serves every road user without consideration for others.
The situation Monday night was more pathetic as workers who closed from work could not drive home, forcing them to pass the night in the chaotic gridlock. And as people were still lamenting over Monday’s experience, Tuesday appeared to be worse in the history of the expressway.
Many drivers of the trucks openly lamented their plight and alleged extortion by traffic management officials as major cause of the unending gridlock.
One of them, who gave his name as Wasiu said: “I have paid about N60,000 between Second Rainbow and Berger, and I’m still nowhere near the ports.”
Asked why he paid such a huge amount of money, he said: “If you don’t pay, they won’t allow you to move.”
Another, who declined to be named said: “I’ve been on queue for 14 days and have paid N50,000. I’m still here.”
Hundreds of trucks approach the area daily.
Meanwhile, as a way out, Association of Maritime Truck Owners, AMATO, has called for a critical review of the activities of the task team which in their view is unhealthy, provocative and retrogressive, in order to find a lasting solution to the awful situation.
In a statement signed by the President of the Association, Remi Ogungbemi, and made available to Vanguard, the body called on ports regulators especially the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, and Nigerian Shippers’ Council, NSC, to urgently convene a stakeholders meeting to enable them express their area of concerns.
Some stakeholders have frowned at the exclusion of AMATO President from the current effort by the task team, knowing that he had been in the forefront of finding lasting solution to the gridlock in the past.
They noted that this is giving room for suspicion as to the motive behind his exclusion. The presidential directive was issued for the clearing up of the Apapa gridlock and restoration of law and order in Apapa and its environs.
Apapa Council boss
But reacting to the deplorable gridlock, Chairman of Apapa Local Government Council, Adele Elijah, whose council has abandoned the constituents since being in office a year ago, said the council was collaborating with the Presidential Task Team in ensuring the clean-up and getting rid of trucks from Apapa and environs.
According to Abraham, the council management, led by its chairman, Elijah, on July 17, 2017, held a meeting with the task team to chart the way forward.
According to him, present at the parley were: Vice Chairman of the team and former Lagos State Commissioner for Transportation, Kayode Opeifa and Commissioner of Police, CP, Head of Enforcement Unit, Hakeem Odumosu.
Adele explained that the essence of the meeting was to create a platform through which the operations of the task team could be assessed viz-a-viz performance and challenges.
He disclosed that the council had donated several communication gadgets to the task team among others to ease their operations.
During the parley, Supervisor for Agriculture & Rural Services, Hakeem Ojora traced the history of traffic gridlock to the era of fuel scarcity where tankers queued when most of the articulated vehicles stationed on the main roads or road sides to sell off their goods.
He said AP Filling Station which is beside Leventis/Dockyard converted the service road to personal use which made the trailers to use the bridges. He therefore urged the government to revisit the agreement reached during Senator Muniru Muse administration as chairman of the council.
Tunde Daniel suggested that some roads should be designated for trailers and to ply certain roads weekends and night only. He advised the task team to remove FOU ,Customs checking points.
Alhaji Adamu Jega said one of the problems of Apapa gridlock is that the six parks in the ports had been sold to terminal operators, while the road at Naval Yard has been blocked. He urged the committee to roll out plans to checkmate the menace of different categories of vehicles such as containers, tankers, open trailers on the road.
Mr. Ayoko G P. advised the task team to commission agencies like VIO,FRSC,LASTMA to inspect and assess road worthiness of vehicles plying Apapa Wharf because any broken down vehicles often lead to untold hardship on other road users.
Odumosu, in his response assured that all observations and recommendations raised would be forwarded to appropriate quarters. He said that if Liverpool Road was completed it would be restricted to cars and buses alone and equally Ijora– Apapa axis, insisting that trailers will be diverted to ply Mile 2 to Wharf.
Apapa House of Assembly members intervention to no avail
Mojisola Lasbat Miranda, representing Apapa Constituency I,Lagos State House of Assembly, was said to have moved a couple of motions on the floor of the House that led to the intervention of LASTMA, Nigeria Police and other traffic and security agencies to address the traffic challenges along Apapa corridor.
She also called on the NNPC to expedite action on the relocation of the tank farms in Apapa, while inviting the Acting Commissioner for Transport and the General Manager of LASTMA to the floor of the House to brief the house on the measures they have taken so far and the lasting solutions they propose to the situation but all to no avail.