…We have concluded our work-Presidential task-team source
By Emma Nnadozie and Olasunkanmi Akoni
Traffic gridlock Sunday, grounded all human and vehicular activities along Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, as motorists and other road users were stranded in traffic for several hours due to activities of truck and articulated vehicle operators who parked indiscriminately on the expressway.
The situation was worsened by the torrential rainfall that flooded many roads thus subjecting motorists, residents, commuters and other road users to untold hardship. The road from Second Rainbow to Berger Yard, along the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway was completely locked down.
Investigations carried out by a team of Vanguard reporters, however, revealed that the gridlock which eased off few weeks back resurfaced due to the massive extortion going on between both Naval men that have suddenly taken over major parts of the highway up to Kirikiri, members of the Presidential Task Force, National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, National Union of Petroleum and natural Gas, NUPENG and the police stationed in all the strategic sections of the road.
The ongoing extortion spree has spread to Old Ojo road, Satellite Town where Naval men have taken over the control of traffic completely thereby, sidelining policemen entrusted with the responsibility of controlling traffic. In fact, from NIMASA area in Kirikiri to Old Ojo road enroute to the tank farms at Satellite Town, trucks and tankers have blocked the major roads thereby leaving only one narrow lane for motorists.
Enquiries made at NIMASA area of Kirikiri revealed that both the police and naval men were at daggers drawn over who would control the chaotic traffic situation. While some truck drivers laid the blame on officials of the Presidential Task Force for releasing trucks for loading indiscriminately, thereby compounding the already bad situation, an official of the Task Force hinted that their problem is the naval men and policemen who have prominently positioned themselves at strategic areas where they are busy extorting money from trucks and tanker drivers.
Agitated motorists and commercial drivers told Vanguard that the whole area have been militarized to the extent that both naval men and soldiers are seen openly escorting motorists and tankers against traffic after the payment of an agreed sum of money ranging from N5000 to N10,000. They intimated that truck and tanker drivers pay more along the road linking old Ojo in Satellite with Kirikiri and from Second Rainbow bus stop to Mile-2 bridge and up to Berger Yard bus stop.
The situation is so bad that officials of these bodies are seen openly confronting each other at intervals over who gets what. In many instances, it has led to fracas that lasted for hours thereby bringing traffic in those areas to a total halt.
According to a motorist, Mr Adeyinka Alabi, “I have been stranded in gridlock for the past 3 hours to move from Mile-2 end to Berger yard, Kirikiri Road. The entire road was completely blocked as tankers and container laden vehicles took over the road without any movement.
“Driver of a container-laden vehicle who was driving in my front due to the lack of movement abandoned the vehicle on the road. The driver later resurfaced about 30 minutes later before we could move again. There were no security personnel to control or remedy the ugly situation. Many people are left to grind their teeth in agony.”
Recall that on May 22, 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari had issued a directive for the immediate clearing up of the Apapa gridlock and the restoration of law and order to Apapa and its environs.. The directive mandated the immediate removal of all trucks from the bridges and roads within Apapa and all adjoining streets leading into the Apapa axis.
Effort to speak with the Vice-Chairman of Presidential Task team, Kayode Opeifa, was unsuccessful at press time as he was unavailable for comment.
But a senior official of the task team who did not want his name mentioned, told Vanguard, “Our job is completed in Apapa. The rest we are doing is just extra work. You can read the presidential order. LASTMA is to enforce traffic management in the area henceforth.”