•On-going reconstruction projects responsible for current gridlock —Lagos govt; Assures of completion in October
By Kingsley Adegboye & Olasunkanmi Akoni
Access to Apapa, a popular port area of Lagos metropolis, playing host to two of the busiest seaports in Nigeria, has become a recurring nightmare from whichever direction one wants to get to the port city.
Whether from Oshodi axis, Ijora, Ajegunle or Lagos-Badagry expressway, the traffic situation has worsened in the past few months, resulting in commuters, port users and workers, whose offices are located within Apapa, now spending several hours to access their destinations on a daily basis.
For those who work and live in Apapa or have one form of business transactions or the other, the past two months have been very harrowing.
Signs that the traffic situation in the port city will soon abate are still very far. This is because apart from the ongoing reconstruction of the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, which has restricted traffic to service lanes on both sides each day, trailers, trucks, fuel tankers and other container-bearing articulated vehicles line up on every major road leading to the Tin Can Port and Apapa Wharf, making commuting a herculean, sometimes impossible task for other motorists.
Bridges turned to parking lots
Till date, most bridges on Western Avenue, Ijora and along the Oshodi-Apapa expressway have been turned into parking lots by truck drivers. It is a fact that activities at the ports are also suffering the impact of the traffic, as container-bearing trucks find it difficult to access the ports.
Though the difficulty in accessing Apapa has been like that for several years, it appears that there is no hope that a solution is in sight soon, as the ongoing reconstruction of the Apapa-Oshodi expressway still has a long way to go.
Residents desert homes; offices closed down
“Every day, people are meant to go through this difficult situation to get to their offices and homes. Not only have houses been deserted, but offices have also been closed down due to the difficulty in accessing the area,” a commuter noted.
“For those who have access to Apapa from Western Avenue, sometimes the gridlock starts as far as Ikorodu Road, Alaka or Ijora Olopa. Others who access the area from the Oshodi-Mile 2 axis, the traffic starts from Sanya Bus-Stop,” another commuter said.
It is not only entering Apapa that is unpleasant, exiting is as hellish, as motorists and road users are left at the mercy of the hardship with nobody knowing when it will come to an end. It is a common sight these days to see commuters alighting from buses and trekking down to their destinations.
Tank farms compound situation
The situation is compounded by the concentration of tank farms in the Apapa axis, thereby attracting large numbers of petrol tankers that jostle with container-bearing trucks on the road. From the Westminster bus stop, heading towards Apapa, one could see chains of tank farms such as Ibeto, SPOG Sea Petroleum and Gas Company, Sahara Group, Ascon Oil, Gulf Treasure Limited and Total, among others.
A first-time visitor to Apapa would think that, as the traffic glides at a snail’s pace, it would eventually open up to the free flow of traffic at some point. But the hard reality hits him when, immediately after the Berger Under Bridge, there appears to be a complete lockdown of the road, a kind of dead end.
Drivers abandon trucks
Most heavy-duty vehicles parked on the road have their engines switched off, abandoned by their drivers who probably have spent days on the spot, an indication that there is no hope as to when the line would start to move again.
Reacting to the current gridlock in Apapa, Special Adviser on Transportation to the Governor, Sola Giwa, attributed it to the ongoing rehabilitation of road and bridge projects in the axis.
He called on residents and motorists along the Oshodi-Apapa expressway to be patient over the ongoing rehabilitation of roads, assuring that the projects will be completed by the end of October.
Sanwo-Olu’s aide said he had earlier addressed Managers of Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, representatives of Messrs Hi-Tech Construction Company, truck operators and stakeholders at a crucial meeting bothering on Apapa traffic issues and road construction at NPA Tincan Island, Apapa Office.
“We will not relent in our efforts to eradicate gridlock on the Mile2-Tincan, Apapa axes,” he assured. “We are not unaware of the traffic situation in the area, but the state government is trying to resolve the challenges plaguing the ongoing construction of the Mile2- Tincan.
Roads to be completed October —Lagos govt
“I can assure that full work will be completed latest by the end of October for public use, which will reduce the current situation”, the Special Adviser stated,
Giwa explained that the concerns of the truckers and the construction company, Hi-tech, have been well noted by the traffic management enforcement team, adding that they will be engaged to create and implement a lasting solution to reduce the gridlock on the lane inbound Tincan Port.
“While we implore motorists and residents to be patient as we are committed to delivering the project on schedule, Sanwo-Olu-led administration will continue engagements with all stakeholders to ensure cooperation and speed in rounding up construction of the port access roads and ensuring seamless movement in and out of Apapa and its environs.”
Also, a Hi-Tech official, Mr Willie Barkhuisen, said that with the support of the State Government, the company will complete rehabilitation works along the Mile-2-Tincan axis in two months.
The General Manager of Engineering, Dangote Group, represented by Akinsanya Bolaji, lauded the Lagos State Government for its dedication and support in ensuring that the rehabilitation of the port access roads is completed on schedule.
He assured that the Dangote Group will remain supportive of bettering port operations.
Meanwhile, motorists have called on the state government to come to the aid of the public as they lamented their suffering on the route.