•Touts extort truck drivers as LATSMA, Police, FRSC abandon duty
•Motorists trapped in traffic for 12hrs
By Evelyn Usman & Olasunkanmi Akoni
MOTORISTS plying the Apapa-Oshodi expressway in Lagos, yesterday, went through the most harrowing experience of their lives, as they were trapped in traffic for the better part of the day.
The Presidential Task Team charged with ensuring free flow of traffic was not in sight.
Mobile policemen, officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LATSMA, Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, and other security officials saddled with the responsibility of ensuring the free flow of traffic, abandoned their duty posts.
Their absence made the ever-busy expressway to be overtaken by trucks as touts had a free reign, moving about extorting truck drivers and motorists plying the road.
Indeed, the touts and transport union officials were seen collecting money from some truck drivers, and clearing the road for them.
Most of the law enforcement agents were sighted at Jakande, Mile-2, and Otto Whaff bus-stops collecting tolls from defiant truck drivers who attempted to find their ways into the Ports and tank farms.
The torrential downpour also contributed to the gridlock, as flood covered the expressway due to blocked drainages.
As at 8 pm, most motorists, some of who are Vanguard staff, were still trapped in the traffic.
Earlier, some passengers in commercial vehicles were forced to alight and mount commercial motorcycles which were the only alternative means of escaping the traffic, to their respective workplaces.
Some motorists were drenched by rain in the process.
However, commercial motorcyclists hijacked the opportunity to hike their fares.
Some motorists, who spoke with Vanguard, blamed members of the task team for the traffic.
A motorist, Mr. Uchendu Chuka, said: “They (presidential task team) are the ones indulging these truck drivers. If they stop collecting money from them and insist they maintain a straight line, sanity will return to the expressway. But if they don’t, the situation will remain like this.”
Another motorist, John Haruna said: “The government is the cause of this suffering. This issue would have been addressed had there been loading bays for these trucks. Besides, why is it difficult to create ports in other states? Why not decentralise tank farms? This boils down to insensitivity to the plight of commoners by the government. If the tank farms and trucks were owned by the poor, the government would have made a policy that would clip their wings by now. This is sad.”
Persistent rainfall, bad road responsible for gridlock —PTT
The Vice-Chairman of the Presidential Task Team, Kayode Opeifa attributed the renewed gridlock in the axis to tidal effect of the Atlantic Ocean as a result of persistent rainfall which has left most parts of Lagos flooded.
Opeifa also blamed the gridlock on potholes on both sides of the Lagos-Badagry Expressway, and on-going construction work by Hi-Tech Construction company.
He also said that backlog of vessels at the seaport, due to the lockdown on COVID19 could be attributed to the current gridlock and congestion at Can Island Port Complex,TCIPC.