•Hold NURTW, RTEAN responsible for gridlock
•LASTMA, Police stay aloof for fear of attack
By Olasunkanmi Akoni & Godfrey Bivbere, LAGOS
THE traffic situation along the Mile-2 end of the Apapa-Oshodi expressway worsened, yesterday, as hoodlums and touts working for both the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, and Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria, RTEAN, shunned Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s order on suspension of ticket sale to truckers.
The development led to gridlock along the Oshodi-Apapa expressway, induced by activities of miscreants who were busy collecting tolls from truckers before being allowed onto the port roads.
Motorists and commuters were trapped in the chaotic gridlock for several hours.
Governor Sanwo-Olu had ordered the suspension of ticket sales to truckers on all access ports road, with immediate effect, to ensure seamless movement of vehicles in the axis.
The NURTW and RTEAN members clashed over the sale of tickets recently, which led to the death of five people in the process.
Motorists recount experiences
Recounting his experience, a motorist, Mr. Jide Akinlabi, said: “The area boys are back on the road, collecting money from the truckers.
“I spent over 2 hours moving from Second Rainbow via Fatgbems Filling Station to Ottor Wharf.
“The area boys, who wore lemon green reflective jackets, are responsible for this traffic. They are at several points collecting levies from truckers.
“Are these miscreants bigger than the government or they are making returns to the state government’s coffer?”
Also speaking, Mr. Kingsley Emmanuel, who expressed worry over the incessant gridlock especially on Sunday, said: “The entire Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, from Sanya to Otto-Wharf, is on a standstill as miscreants are extorting motorists and truckers.
“I thought the state government had ordered them to vacate the road, what are they doing on the road again? They are causing gridlock and untold hardship on motorists and residents.
“This is all about corruption. LASTMA, Police, and other security agents here are collecting returns from these miscreants, that is why it has been so difficult to stop their nefarious activities.”
Similarly, a truck driver, who identified himself as Lekan Adeniyi, said those put in charge of controlling traffic still extort them.
Adeniyi attributed the gridlock to the activities of the area boys who boost that “any truck driver resisting payment of such tolls would have their trucks damaged.”
Lagos govt keeps mum
When contacted on the latest development, Chairman, Lagos State Special Traffic Management and Enforcement Compliance Team, who is also the Special Adviser to the Governor on Transportation, Oluwatoyin Fayinka, was yet to respond.
Hold NURTW and RTEAN responsible for gridlock — Traffic team
However, a member of the Lagos State Traffic Management Team, who spoke under anonymity, accused NURTW and RTEAN members of the poor management of the traffic.
The official, who spoke in confidence, said: “The problem we are facing here is that NURTW members are not helping our job to free movement.
“Rather than allow us to manage the traffic professionally, they give counter instructions to the truck drivers after collecting levies, thereby causing the gridlock.
“The miscreants returned to the road since last week and threatened to attack our men if we attempted to stop them from collecting tolls from truckers. So, what we are doing presently is to ensure the free flow of traffic.
“We are appealing to motorists to bear with the traffic managers; we are working hard to restore sanity as soon as possible.”
He also accused the truckers of compounding the traffic situation on the road by coming out in large numbers without any valid e-Call up ticket.
“They all want to get to the tank farm and the seaport at the same time which is not possible. This leads to the terrible traffic jam we are left to deal with,” the LASTMA officer lamented.
Govt lacks political will to curb gridlock — ex-ANLCA boss
Speaking on the chaotic traffic situation, an aide 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 said: “There is lack of political will on the part of the Federal Government. There are no 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 have been corrupted; you see that is why I talked about the political will.
“The government should be able to clear the places that needed to be cleared and relocate those that needed to be relocated temporarily if need be to allow the contractors to work.”
Efforts to speak with the General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications and the Corporate Affairs Manager of the Truck Transit Park, TTP, Messrs Olaseni Alakija and Toni Uwaifo, proved abortive as neither of them responded to calls by Vanguard.