•As govt suspends sale of tickets on all access ports roads

•NURTW blamed for worsening gridlock in Mile-2

By Theodore Opara, Olasunkanmi Akoni & Godwin Oritse

THE traffic situation along  Mile-2 end of the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, continued unabated, yesterday, as hoodlums and touts working for transport unions defied Lagos State Government’s ban on their activities and took control of traffic in the area leading to the port access roads which resulted in the usual gridlock.

This came as state government suspended the sale of tickets to truckers on all access port roads with immediate effect.

Recall that after over four hours marathon meeting, last week Tuesday, representatives of Lagos State Government, Nigeria Police, Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, and stakeholders, agreed to end the protracted gridlock in Apapa and environs, particularly, along Oshodi-Apapa Expressway.

Stakeholders at the meeting included: Truck Transit Park, TTP, Council of Maritime Transport Unions and Association, COMTUA, National Association of Road Transport Owners, NARTO, Road Transport Employer Association of Nigeria, RTEAN, Nigerian Police, Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA, among others.

The meeting witnessed heated accusations and counter accusations among the stakeholders over issues of illegal road blocks by miscreants, extortions and illegal collection of levies, among others.

Participants, who spoke at the no holds-barred meeting, pointed accusing fingers at truckers, NPA, TTP, LASTMA, Police as well as port unions as being responsible for the continuous gridlock in Apapa and environs.

Chairman, Special Traffic Management and Enforcement Compliance Team, who is also the Special Adviser to the Governor on Transportation, Oluwatoyin Fayinka, who convened the meeting read the riot act to truckers, and stakeholders, involved in the ongoing mounting of illegal check points, collection, among others.

Lagos team and stakeholders however, agreed to ensure that no further road blocks for collection of levies and any group caught would be arrested and arraigned accordingly.

NURTW blamed

Members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, have been blamed for the continued gridlock along Mile-2, which has become a no go area to motorists and commuters occasioned by activities of tankers and other articulated vehicles.

Some drivers who ply the road told Vanguard that the traffic could have been better managed by the law enforcement agents and Lagos State Traffic Management team if not for members of the NURTW who always give counter instructions on how to manage the traffic by the agencies.

When confronted on the continued gridlock in the axis, a LASTMA official who spoke under anonymity, blamed NURTW members as being responsible for the poor management of the traffic which has led to complete standstill in the area.

“The problem we are facing here is that the NURTW members are not helping our job to free movement. Rather than allow us manage the traffic professionally, they give counter instructions to the truck drivers thereby causing traffic jam.”

He added that the tanker and truck drivers too are compounding the traffic situation by struggling with one another on the road.

“All of them want to get to tank farm and the seaport at the same time which is not possible. And the result of this is terrible traffic jam we are left to toy with,” he further stated.

Even at that, the LASTMA officials are afraid to confront the NURTW officials for fear of being attacked, they said the NURTW members are ready to do anything to hurt their officials, hence they try to avoid them by all means.

Vanguard gathered that the ‘toll fee’ collected by miscreants ranges from N1,000 to N5,000 per truck.

Meantime, two transport unions, NURTW, and the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria, RTEAN, are set for a showdown that may disrupt port operations over sale of tickets to truck drivers at the ports.

Speaking on the development, the 25th Vice Chairman of RTEAN in Lagos State, comrade Adeola Adeyemi, told Vanguard that despite the suspension of the sale of tickets by the Lagos State Government, the NURTW is selling tickets to truck drivers at the port and access roads.

Adeyemi, also said officials of the NURTW are not supposed to sell tickets to RTEAN members, adding that the NURTW was even selling the tickets above the official price.

He explained that while the State Government pegged the price of tickets at N800, the NURTW is selling ticket at N2,000.

In a statement made available to Vanguard, the NURTW was said to have violated the directive, as their officials were seen to be collecting money from truckers at the Otto-Wharf Junction of the Mile-2 end of the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway as of yesterday.

Adeyemi explained that RTEAN has fully complied with the directive as its officials have since stopped the sale of tickets to truckers.

Confirming the development, Fayinka, said that the sale of tickets by the unions has been suspended as the government is still in consultation with stakeholders in the sector.”

He said that the Police have been directed to arrest anybody that goes against the directive

Fayinka explained that the essence of the ticket sale is to avoid multiple collections from the truckers that usually traverse three to four local governments before they get to their destination.

He stated that “it is this multiple sale of tickets that the government is trying to harmonize into one single ticket that will cover the entire trip.”

He stated; ”I did have a meeting with representatives of both RTEAN and NURTW and I told them that the Lagos State Government has suspended the sale of tickets to transporters and as a result of this, nobody is allowed to sell tickets on behalf of Lagos State to any motorist, including trailers, cars and buses.

READ ALSO: Oshodi-Apapa gridlock: Lagos task force, LASTMA extortion persists

”The essence of this ticket is that we noticed that a transporter that loads his vehicle at Ikorodu is likely to transverse four to five Local Government Areas and at each of these Local government areas, they are made to pay N200 Council ticket to Ikorodu, N200 at Ikorodu North, N200 Council ticket at Ikeja, N200 Council ticket and other Council tickets depending on where they go. We thought that money is too much.

”So Lagos State Government now came up with a plan to have a single ticket that will be sold at N800. Out of this N800, the Local Government will take its share, State and then the Unions will take theirs.

”And if they can tell us their park, they will not pay for refuse money again, as the Lagos State Waste Management Authority, LAWMA will also be paid from this ticket money collected from transporters as the money will be paid into a consolidated account.

”At the major garages that are known to the law, LAWMA will come to these garages and pick up waste free of charge as they will be paid from this consolidated account.

Also, the drivers at these garages will submit the name and passport photographs of drivers operating at these garages, from this same consolidated money will be taken and tax clearance will be issued to them.

”You know when you are trying to bring good policies, some people who live on illegality will not let things like these to work but the State government is serious about making life comfortable and convenient for people.”

He disclosed that the ticket of N800 was not meant to be sold to the trailer because we are yet to determine how much trailers will be charged.

Fayinka also stated that selling the ticket far above the stipulated amount is a clear violation of the law and the Police has been put on notice to arrest anybody violating the law.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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