•9 months after, traffic system fails

•Fayinka’s team, miscreants on unholy alliance to cause mayhem

Trucks shut down movement, corruption continues

Bad road impedes movement

Motorists lament

Container terminals, truck parks spring-up in Okota area

By Olasunkanmi Akoni, Kingsley Adeboye, Godwin Oritse & Godfrey Bivbre

Barely nine months into inauguration of Traffic and Management Committee, set up by Governor Bababjide Sanwo-Olu, in collaboration with the Nigeria Ports Authority, NPA, all efforts to restore sanity, law and order in Apapa and environs have failed as chaotic gridlock persists along Oshodi-Apapa Expressway.

Motorists and commuters have repeatedly sent complaints to Governor Sanwo-Olu over the menace and illegal activities of truck drivers parking indiscriminately on the highway and inner streets along the area.

The situation got worse on Thursday, as trucks and articulated vehicles shut down traffic caused by the traffic team, responsibile for ensuring free flow of traffic.

Although the state government blamed the poor state of the road for the gridlock, Vanguard can authoritatively report that the problem is caused by officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LATSMA, the Police and miscreants.

Most motorists who got wind of the terrible gridlock quickly, made a U-turn to drive against the traffic, popularly called “One-Way.”

Over 1,5000 trucks were seen parked indiscriminately, while touts and miscreants, were collecting illegal toll fees from truckers as taskteam and other traffic officials watched helplessly.

Sanwo-Olu had in January, 2021, inaugurated a Special Traffic Management and Enforcement Compliance Team to resolve the traffic gridlock in and around Apapa.

The measure, Sanwo-Olu stressed became necessary following intractable gridlock along Oshodi-Apapa Expressway and environs.

The team is saddled with the responsibility of ensuring zero tolerance of traffic offenders and a seamless traffic management system specifically designed to restore sanity in and around Apapa and create a cohesive system that would aid the resurgence of business activities and ensure that residents live in a conducive environment devoid of traffic-induced stress.

The team was also mandated to eliminate the issues of corruption and various form of extortion associated with previous federal special task force.

According to the governor, the area of coverage of the team’s operations include:  Ikorodu Road to Oshodi – Mile 2 – Apapa,  Ikorodu Road – Funsho Williams Avenue (Surulere) – Alaka – Iganmu-SIFAX-Ijora 7up – Apapa,   Surulere – Alaka – Eko Bridge – Ijora Olopa – Ijora 7up-Apapa.

“With the development, it is expected that traffic within Apapa and its environs will be better managed by a team of dedicated LASTMA, Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, Police and Intelligence service officers,” Sanwo-Olu stated.

Despite efforts to ease traffic, extortion acts however, continued on the axis as the weapons’ wielding miscreants, with the collaboration of Police and LATSMA, returned blocking the middle of the highway at several check points to collect money from truckers in the broad day light.

Apparently, their activities led to congestion on the road from Second Rainbow, via Fatgbems Filling Station to Oto Wharf area, leaving no alternative lane to other motorists to ply.

Motorists were left stranded in the gridlock for several hours as security and traffic officials looked the other way, leaving helpless motorists to their fate.

In an apparent failure of the system despite assurances of the Lagos State government and the NPA, some of the miscreants involved in the illegal collection of toll at the Mile-2 inward Tin-can  Port end of the road noted that such extortions cannot stop because some persons at the top are benefiting from such collections.

Vanguard gathered that high level of extortion by officials of the Nigeria Police Force, and other agencies from truck/tank drivers union members and “area boys” is compounding traffic control.

Meanwhile, motorists and residents have called on Governor Sanwo-Olu to wake up and order full investigations into alleged extortion with a view to unravel those behind the cartel and culprits be brought to book as deterrence to others.

Truckers blame NPA, TTP

Secretary of Containerised Truck Owners Association of Nigeria, COTOAN, Yakub Kolawole, has attributed the confusion along Mile2 – inward Tin-can port to lack of coordination and enforcement of truck movement from the two main terminals to the port.

Kolawole also blamed the activities of some persons benefiting from the huge extortion taking place along the route.

The COTOAN boss, who spoke with Vanguard, explained that truck drivers with the Electronic-call-up ticket move without coordination from the two main holding bays to the port resulting in the congestion presently witnesses along the route.

He said: “It is the duty of both the NPA, and Trucks Transit Parks, TTP, Limited managers of the e-call-up system to ensure strict coordination of truck after they may have gotten their call-up ticket.

“We have a lot of people with vested interest; people that do not want it to work are more than those that want it to work. It is not the drivers or owners of the trucks; we have some people that are agents whose source of income is to make sure that they pass truckers for owners.

READ ALSO: Apapa Gridlock: Sanwo-Olu, Toyin Fayinka abandon road

“So every means that government or any other person is putting in place to make sure that thing work smoothly is frustrated by them as long as they are not benefiting from it.

“Government can handle it if they want to. Look at the present E-call-up system is still okay and to some extent, it is still handling the problem but the only mistake from their side is that they are not monitoring the e-call-up.

“They are monitoring the movement of the trucks from the park and pre-gate to the port. As long as you have your call-up ticket, you enter the road. Once you book, I book and once you have an original e-call-up ticket, you enter the road. There is no proper management of the movement.

“It is the duty of the NPA in collaboration with TTP Ltd, the managers of e-call-up system to determine the number of trucks to come from each park, what day and time in relation to the available space at the port.

Container terminals, truck  parks spring up  in Okota area

The presence of two container terminals, three holding bays for empty containers and three other private truck parks have taken over the entire Okota residential area of Lagos, a development that has led to gridlock in the area.

A visit to the area showed that the articulated vehicles have virtually taken over the entire stretch of the Ago Palace way thereby giving residents cause for concern.

Vanguard gathered that sometime last year, residents from Greenfield Estate protested the presence of the trucks in the area but nothing substantial came of the protest as the presence of the trucks did not abate.

Speaking on the development, a Customs agent who operates at the Sifax Off-dock terminal who spoke on condition anonymity, said that the trucks are on the street because of the congestion inside the terminal.

The Customs agent also said that once the congestion inside the terminal is cleared, the trucks will move in to load their containers and vacate the area.

He explained that there are two Bonded Terminals belonging to both Classic and Sifax Off-Dock, along with some holding bays and private truck parks where some of the trucks pay to park.

Reacting to the development, Mr. Chris Okafor said that the presence of the facilities and trucks has become a nightmare for resident in the area adding that the presence has posed threat to lives of residents.

Another resident in the area, identified as Nduka Chijioke said that residents are at loss as to how to resolve the menace of the truckers and port businesses in the area.

Chijioke, also said that some residents are thinking of inviting the Lagos State Government to intervene in the unwholesome situation created by the presence of the business owners in Okota.

Efforts to speak with the management of both Sifax and Classic were unsuccessful as of press time.

Fayinka reacts

Reacting to the development, Fayinka blamed it on the abandoned road rehabilitation by the Federal Government.

He said: “We urge 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.

“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.”

VANGUARD NEWS NIGERIA

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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.