•Miscreants lay siege on expressway, Okota inner road
•Traffic controllers shift collection toll base
By Olasunkanmi Akoni & Godfrey Bivbere
Gridlock has persisted on the Oshodi-Apapa expressway, at the Mile-2-Oke axis, as the Head of the Lagos State Task Force, Toyin Fayinka, tasked with clearing the road, has ignored the commuters’ suffering.
Meanwhile, miscreants and hoodlums have continued to operate on Oshodi-Apapa expressway, unchallenged, as they extort truckers, thereby causing gridlock in the axis.
Also, traffic controllers have shifted their colleation oll base.
It was also discovered that parking lots for trucks have been moved into inner roads in Okota, thereby causing untold hardship for motorists and residents.
The miscreants, who are called ‘ECOMOG’ Boys, were said to be working along with some transport unions and the Lagos State Traffic Management Team, led by Special Adviser to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Transportation, Mr. Oluwatoyin Fayinka.
The ECOMOG Boys were seen, yesterday, in their large number, stopping trucks at Mile-2 Oke, inward Otto Wharf, collecting bribes from truckers. The activities resulted in a terrible gridlock, as motorists were stuck for several hours.
Vanguard investigation revealed that the military are involved in the corruption racket, as they allow trucks belonging to their senior officers to have unfettered access to the port, at the expense of other truckers.
Earlier, Fayinka had absolved his team of any complicity in the bribe allegation, saying: “We are working independently, and not in collaboration with the miscreants or the police. You can do your own investigation and find out the truth.”
It, however, took the intervention of the officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA, Amuwo-Odofin Commander, Mr O. Peter, who led other officers to get the traffic moving, before sanity was restored.
Peter said: “The miscreants, in the dead of night, open illegal routes for truckers to pass and this often leads to influx of trucks, resulting in heavy gridlock. We will not relent to put the situation in check.”
The traffic team had restated enforcement commitment against indiscriminate parking of trucks along the axis in order to ensure seamless traffic experience.
In a similar situation, Chairman of the Board of Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, Emmanuel Adesoye had assured the staff of Tin-can Island Port, NPA that they would accelerate work on the ongoing road rehabilitation projects being embarked on by Federal Ministry of Works and Housing.
“We implore the media to help us appeal to the Federal Ministry of Works to fast track the execution of the on-going rehabilitation of port access road as the work seems to have been stalled. This is a major set-back to our work of restoring sanity in the area as it inhibits free movement of trucks in and out of port areas,” Fayinka stated.
On the enforcement, the special Adviser, who spoke with Vanguard, explained that the move became necessary following series of petitions over the nefarious activities and indiscipline of truckers along the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway and environs which had continued to cause untold hardship on motorists and residents.
Fayinka said: “Also, after declaring a zero tolerance on indiscriminate parking by truck drivers and any motorists we have applied maximum force on them by impounding their vehicles.
“As we speak, we have 50 trucks at our yards and still in our custody. We have more than 50 impounded trucks and other vehicles. We will ensure we delay the release for at least one month without option of fine so that it will serve as deterrence to others.
“Meanwhile, port manager should call his men (NPA officials) to order by not attending to those truckers who are fond of plying service lane.
Also, the Police authorities should call their men to order as about 30 Mopol have been identified for engaging in extortion of truckers. We will avail the police authority all evidence if they demand for it because we have all their activities recorded with us.”
He therefore, called on the public to report to the authority anytime the truck drivers flout the regulation for swift response.
Miscreants shift base
Following complaints from truck drivers, commuters, and business people around the Mile 2 – Otto Wolff, inward Tin-can Port axis, traffic controllers and the miscreants who were allegedly involved in the illegal toll collection have moved their activities to the Berger –Under Bridge to Tin-can Port end of the expressway, away from prying eyes.
Investigation revealed that though the government traffic controllers comprising officials of the Nigeria Police Force, NPF, LASTMA and FRSC, were seen at various points managing the traffic situation along that route, apparently, working in consonance with the miscreants.
A truck driver, who simply identified himself as Friday, said that those who do not have backing of the powers that be are made to part with the toll as they drive by, while those truckers owned by prominent persons are made to pay their toll at all the collection points in bulk and are allowed to drive by unhindered.
He said those involved in the fight to clear the road should not be abandoned.
According to Friday: “All the government people involved in traffic control are involved in the extortion – Nigeria Police Force, NPF, LASTMA, FRSC, and even the traffic people at NPA. Those that do not have backing are made to wait endlessly on the queue.”
Similarly, former Senior Special Assistant, SSA, to the former National President of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents, ANLCA, Joe Sanni, blamed the federal government’s lack of political will to address the gridlock.
Sanni, also said that “”Government is not giving enough backing to the construction company working on the road. They should help the contractor clear the route to allow them to do their work properly.
He explained that the work should be 24″hours daily, because of the importance of the route to the nation’s economy.
“There is lack of political will. There are not experts to control the movement of trucks and trailers while the contractors are working, the construction company cannot stop these articulated vehicles on their own.
“Those who should be controlling traffic has been corrupted, you see that is why I talked about the political will. Government should be able to clear the places that need to be cleared and relocate those that need to be relocated if need be to allow the contractors to work.”