…As Oshodi-Apapa Expressway traffic worsens
By Olasunkanmi Akoni
An emergency stakeholders’ meeting between representatives of Lagos State Government and union leaders in ports operation has ended in a deadlock.
This happened as the chaotic traffic situation for the four days running, on Thursday, along Apapa-Oshodi Expressway was totally shut down as truckers and tankers parked indiscriminately on the road causing untold hardship to motorists, commuters and businesses in the area.
The meeting, held in Alausa, Ikeja, on Thursday, was called on the instance of the state government as part of efforts to find relief on Apapa-Oshodi Expressway gridlock through the template of the newly introduced Electronic Call-Up system.
The meeting was attended by the Head of the Lagos Special Traffic Management and Enforcement Compliance Team, Mr. Toyin Fayinka, and representatives of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, led by the Lagos state chairman, Tayo Aboyeji and Association of Maritime Truck Owners, among others.
The meeting, however, failed to reach a common agreement on the deployment of the e-call up the system by truckers, particularly, tanker drivers along Oshodi-Apapa Expressway.
Effort to get official reactions from the unions representatives failed as they declined to make comment but directed the correspondents to speak to government officials.
It was gathered that the stakeholders blamed the current gridlock on the ongoing road constructions around the axis, activities of tankers due to the high number of tank farms located along the axis, as well as bad roads.
Speaking to Vanguard at the end of the inconclusive meeting with the stakeholders, Fayinka, expressed concern over the development, saying ” there must be way out of the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway gridlock.”
He said in the interim, he has directed the traffic team leader on the axis to ensure that at least a lane is made available for other road users to ply by pulling all the truckers into a designated lane.
Fayinka, assured that after the Easter holiday, the team would go tough on recalcitrant drivers by resorting to impounding their vehicles found flouting the traffic rule.
“We are also looking at the option of involving the military in complementing the enforcement operation of the team for effective result. We can not continue with the indiscipline and disorderly behaviour alongvOshodi- Apapa Expressway.
“However, we have been able to restore a measure of sanity around Ijora, Area B axis of the Apapa through effective deployment of e- call-up system.
“The NUPENG representatives at the meeting told us that the e-call up system is not feasible with their operation as there are no parking lots provided for tankers and more so the e- call-up system is the initiative of the Nigeria Ports Authority, NPA, which they are not under its authority.
“But, we will continue to engage them on the need to keep off the road for other users to have access.”
One of the NUPENG members who preferred anonymity told Vanguard that, “there is no way you will not continue to have tankers along the road. They will have to go into depots to lift oil products.
“There is no parking space provided for tankers, the Trinity, Coconut road still under construction, which the contractor has even abandoned, are the major problems in the area.
“We have 30 tank farms are based along Oshodi-Apapa, Coconut area, the gridlock is inevitable because they have to service tankers coming across the country and running into thousands.
“I knew danger was coming in future when I saw tank farms springing up about 10 years ago in this axis.”
Gridlock, day 4
On Thursday, the fourth day of heavy gridlock on the axis, commuters had to walk several kilometres to their places of work and businesses due to the heavy traffic jam.
A few security personnel, including men of Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA, who were barely visible on the road could not salvage the situation as they kept off the road.
Traffic robbery returns
Meantime, the situation has reached a critical dimension as traffic robbers returned to the road after many months of absence to rob motorists and passersby of their valuables.
A victim, Mr Muritala Adigun, a motorist, recounted how the robbers attacked him and a motorist who was behind him on Wednesday, carting away some valuables.
“I was stuck in the traffic around Sanya Bus stop along Oshodi-Apapa Expressway for several hours.I ran into it around 4 pm and around 6.30 pm when it was getting dark, three rough-looking guys appeared in between the trucks and pounced on my car brandishing dangerous weapons and I was alone. They demanded money, a phone and other valuables from me.
“Fortunately, I have hidden my phone when I saw it was getting dark. They only managed to empty my wallet with five thousand, an Identity card and complimentary cards. After they are done, they hurriedly moved to the car behind me and repeating the same. There was no police presence or any other security personnel.
“The situation is terrible. The government has finally abandoned the people in this part of the state. We are at God’s mercy, can’t governments at the Federal and state levels protect and listen to the yearnings of residents along this Apapa-Oshodi Expressway.
“This is callous and irresponsible on the part of the government, very pathetic. During the election period they will keep running to the masses for votes only to abandon them when they get into office,” Adigun lamented.
Recall that Some stakeholders in the nation’s ports transportation services had picked holes with the electronic call-up (e-call-up) truck control system at the Apapa seaports, calling for reforms barely one month after its take-off.