March 16, 2021

APAPA GRIDLOCK: e-Call system machine crashes, as trucks take-over roads again

File image of traffic jam caused by container-laden trucks and tankers on Mile 2-Apapa Expressway.

File image of traffic jam caused by container-laden trucks and tankers on Mile 2-Apapa Expressway.

…Lagos traffic team overwhelmed; residents, motorists groan

…We’re addressing the issues — Govt

By Udeme Akpan, Olasunkanmi Akoni & Godwin Oritse

Truck and tanker drivers, yesterday, stormed the Oshodi-Apapa and Ijora-Apapa expressways, following unconfirmed reports of collapse of the electronic Call-up system machine, resulting in total gridlock, as residents and motorists got stranded for several hours.

The situation was worsened as traffic law enforcement agents abandoned control to miscreants and officials of port unions.

No official of the newly created Lagos State Special Traffic Management Enforcement Team could be seen at the gridlock points.

The traffic, which started building up mid-morning, worsened at noon, stretching from Ijesha to Berger Yard, along Oshodi-Apapa expressway, while the Ijora-Apapa to Area B, inward Nigerian Ports Authority, was also shut down, due to the high influx of truckers.

One of the truck drivers, identified as Usman, who spoke to Vanguard, said: “The reason we stormed the road is that we learned that the e-Call system machine is faulty, with the issuance of e-Call ticket suspended, meantime. So, pending the restoration of the system, our members decided to storm the road for access into the port. That is why you see many of us on the road.”

However, the electronic call-up system, initiated by the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, has not been fully successful as truck drivers refused to move to the designated satellite truck parks meant to house the vehicles before they are called to pick up products.

The action of these tankers drivers has taken a toll on commuters on the Mile 2- Tin-Can end of the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway as motorists spend long hours between Mile 2 and Tin-can port in Apapa.

The development has also impacted port charges as trailers, coming into the ports through the Mile 2 axis, now spend days on the roads before they access the port to load containers.

Truck drivers frustrating e-call-up system —TTP

Speaking with Vanguard, the Chief Operating Officer, Transit Truck Park, TTP, Mr. Dayo Adeboye, said tanker drivers operating around the Lagos ports are currently frustrating the newly introduced Electronic call-system to regulate the movement of tankers in and out of the ports.

READ ALSO: Apapa: Gridlock, chaos return as truck drivers defy Sanwo-Olu’s directive on regulation

Adeboye said that NPA and his firm, TTP, have tried to engage tanker drivers on how best the traffic situation in Apapa could be managed but have refused to make use of the designated satellite truck parks.

He said: “The oil and gas people do not want to support the NPA’s initiative and I think that is wrong of them. I also think that people are manipulating them not to pay the Port Access charges.

“What is causing the traffic in Mile 2 is that the same thing we want to do in Apapa, we want to do at the Mile 2 end; but we do not have enough force because the Tin-Can side of the road is more infested with unions, (street urchins). It will take a lot more to make them comply.

“So we are trying to gather momentum to regulate them and we also need to get the parks ready for them. We have more oil and gas operations and so, we need to get the physical infrastructure to support them, but they are not willing to comply.”

We’ve not been carried along—DAPPMAN source

When contacted, the spokesman of the Petroleum Tanker Drivers, PTD, Mr. Adebayo Atanda, failed to comment on the issue at the time of writing this story.

Nevertheless, a source from the Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria, DAPPMAN, said: “Nobody has approached us through telephone, text, email or an official letter about this subject. Our office is also conspicuously located in Victoria Island, Lagos, and yet nobody has come to discuss this with us.

“Nobody has even invited us to any meeting or engagement aimed at finding a lasting solution to this problem. We have also not been carried along after such decisions might have been taken.”

The source, however, said: “We will like to inform the world that we do not own tankers and many of our members, who own tankers, have put in place plans for their parking.”

Barely a week after the NPA commenced the new electronic Call-Up System, to ease gridlock in the Apapa axis, the Lagos State Special Traffic Management Enforcement Team said it uncovered a scandal involving counterfeiting of call-up tickets, tagged; “Eto” by truck drivers and owners.

Lagos calls for calm

The leader of the traffic team, who is the Special Adviser to the Governor on Transportation, Oluwatoyin Fayinka, said: “We are already addressing the issues, we are engaging the stakeholders. We have directed NUPENG leaders to sort out the current imbroglio with MRS and NPA on the issue of e-call-up ticketing and holding bays.

“They have given us their word that by Wednesday, the new directive will be adhered to and if this is not complied with, we will have no option than to start impounding trucks of recalcitrant drivers.

“The second factor responsible for the high influx of trucks on the road is the on- going rehabilitation of the section of Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, by Coconut, Trinity area which is being handled by HiTech Construction company.

”The construction company, when contacted, said the section of the road under construction will be ready in six weeks. We believe by the time the road is delivered, it will be bring a lot of relief to the axis.

“We want to appeal to residents and motorists to bear with us for now as everything is being done to restore sanity to Apapa. It is just a matter of time.”

Vanguard News Nigeria