..As Lagos seals 5 container terminals in kIrikiri
By Olasunkanmi Akoni
The newly constituted Traffic Management Enforcement Team, by Lagos State Government, to resolve gridlock in Apapa, and the Nigerian Port Authority Security Team have identified seven holding bays for trucks at various locations around the metropolis for the purpose of decongesting Apapa and environs of gridlock.
The team made the discovery during their first inspection to Apapa to devise a strategy to solve the gridlock issue occasioned by loading trucks and trailers at the port, which have extended to major parts of Lagos.
The Special Team which is saddled with the responsibility of ensuring zero tolerance of traffic offenders and seamless traffic management system, are to also ensure restoration of sanity in and around Apapa in order to create a cohesive system that would aid the resurgence of business activities and a conducive residential environment devoid of traffic-induced stress.
Briefing the press on the activities of the team in the last two weeks on inspection to Apapa, Chairman of the team, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Transportation, Oluwatoyin Fayinka, explained that the team has been able to design a road map and the strategy to be adopted.
According to Fayinka, ‘Presently we are in discussion with the various Stakeholders; the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Shippers Council of Nigeria, Terminal Operators and Association of Trucks Union on the best way to do business around Apapa Ports without the breakdown of law and order’
He further mentioned that part of the discussions held with the Truck Owners Association operating around Apapa was that each company should acquire park terminals for their fleets of trucks to serve as holding bay pending when they will be called up for loading, adding that NPA is already ramping up the Call-Up System that will ensure that trucks that are not yet called for loading do not hang around the ports constituting obstructions to traffic.
Fayinka, stated that seven parks identified for the purpose of holding bay for trucks at various locations around the metropolis, nclude: Ojota, Obanikoro, Oregun, Olowotedo-Ibafo, Amuwo-Odofin, Orile-Iganmu, Okorisan-Lekki/Epe.
This parks, he said will keep trucks away from the roads until they are called up for loading.
Expressing his displeasure at the situation of the port with its attendant gridlock which has paralyzed so many businesses around Apapa corridor with extension to other parts of the state, Fayinka affirmed that the Nigerian Port Authority’s Call Up System will help greatly in reducing traffic gridlock around Apapa.
While full enforcement will commence soon after due consultation with all Stakeholders, Fayinka stressed that the bridges around Apapa corridor which have been turned to parking lots for trucks were not designed to carry the weight of the trailers for a long period of time, adding that the heavy-duty trucks being parked along the bridge leading into the ports will damage the bridge over time and cause a collapse which would be catastrophic to the state and its residents.
Speaking in the affirmative, a member of the Traffic Management Enforcement Team, Shola Giwa stated that the Governor has charged the Team with the responsibility of getting rid of stationary vehicles on the bridges and roads within a short period of time, will only achieve its aim with the cooperation of NPA as the pivotal piece in the situation.
Giwa asked the NPA to make the Call-up System accessible to the Chairman of the Team to enable effective enforcement of the new directives for articulated trucks and tankers, adding that it would also provide a synergy that will bring a lasting solution to the gridlock situation in Apapa.
The General Manager, Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, Engr. Oduyoye who is also a member of the Team, charged the Nigerian Port Authority to turn away trucks and tankers that are not road worthy and allow the traffic laws of the State-run its course on deviant companies by embracing transparency in solving the gridlock problem at the port.
Oduyoye also called for a rescue system by the NPA to be put in place in the interim to secure the immediate evacuation from the roads and prevent extortion from the Law Enforcement Agencies stressing that the bad state of the trucks and trailers is largely responsible for the incessant break down on key road networks which degenerates to gridlock and cause great inconveniences for motorists.
Responding, the General Manager, Security, Nigerian Ports Authority, Mohammed Jamil Khalil assured the agency’s unrelenting support in freeing up Apapa from traffic congestion, adding that the NPA will work together with the state Government to proffer both short and long term solutions to the problem.
Also, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Transportation, Mr Kamar Olowoshago, stated that the Smart City vision could only be actualized if all Stakeholders retrace their steps by taking responsibility for the damages done on Apapa and channel efforts and commitment to tackling the gridlock problems immediately.
In a similar situation, the state government on Thursday sealed five Container Terminals along the Kirikiri coast for operating illegally without recourse to the State Urban and Regional Planning and Development Law.
The sealing of the facilities, which are becoming ubiquitous along the coastlines of the State, was the outcome of a special enforcement exercise coordinated by the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development in conjunction with the Lagos State Waterways Authority, LASWA.
The Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Dr Idris Salako stated that container terminals were operating without the approval of the Lagos State Government while their operations had been observed to have constituted a menace to the watercourse of Lagos State.
He added that no such operations with serious potential impact on the physical environment could be allowed to go on without proper regulations.
Salako added that the Container Terminals that were sealed had been hiding under the guise of having federal approval to operate but could not present on demand of any permit legalising the location of their facilities.
He said that the State Government had said repeatedly without mincing words that it was determined to halt the spate of illegal physical development in the state and give proper planning its pride of place towards achieving the T.H.E.M.E.S Agenda.
The Managing Director LASWA, Mr Oluwadamilola Emmanuel corroborated that all activities on the waterways of the state were being controlled through constant surveillance and monitoring which would not give room to any illegal operations that could be inimical to the progress of the state.
Salako, therefore, encouraged tank farm operators in the corridor to refer to the ultimatum on legalising their operations which would lapse by the end of February 2021 and revert to the ministry with a view to doing the needful.
He also urged the operators to reciprocate the compassion and understanding displayed by the Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu, and resume discussions on how to actualise their approvals and their Corporate Social Responsibility to their respective bases of operations.