…Motorists held up for 6 hours, trucks take over 5 lanes of highway
…Why gridlock has defied solution— NPA source
…Truckers blame non-commissioning of Tin-can/Oshodi expressway
…Weary residents, motorists task Sanwo-Olu, security agencies on the corridor
By Clifford Ndujihe, Olasunkanmi Akoni & Godfrey Bivbere
LAGOS—ONE week after Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s directive to the Lagos State Special Committee on Apapa Traffic to clear the trucks on the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway within 24 hours, the Police and Oduduwa boys have been fingered for the perennial gridlock, which took a turn for the worst, yesterday.
Motorists were held up in traffic for over six hours, yesterday, as the gridlock stretched toAlaba Express bus stop from Berger Suya bus stop. A few motorists had to drive on the kerbs with the attendant damage to their vehicles to beat the traffic while those who could not, gnashed their teeth in the gridlock.
Activities of Police, Oduduwa boys
A member of the task force set up to clear the menace fingered some corrupt security agents and a group of urchins known as Oduduwa Boys for the intractable gridlock.
His words: “The corruption in the Police is one of the factors. Some police officers have spent 15 years on this road. Some of them are doing daily contribution (thrift) of N25,000. If you redeploy them, they will come back after one month.
“Two weeks ago, the governor had a meeting with stakeholders on Oshodi-Apapa traffic. There will be another meeting by the end of the month. Many truck and tanker drivers have refused to come under the E-call up system.
“There is also the menace of Oduduwa Boys who are working with the Police or for themselves collecting money from the truck drivers. The Oduduwa boys are boasting that nothing can be done to them because they are in power.”
Why gridlock has defied solution – NPA source
A source at the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, who lamented that many trucks cannot get to the ports, blamed some truckers for the bedlam.
“The current gridlock along the Mile 2-Tincan axis is caused by tankers that have taken over the main carriage way. They are not moving but causing bunching. Many port-bound trucks are prevented from having access to the port.
The tankers have refused to come under the E-call up system. LASG (Lagos State Government) and NPA have been holding meetings to ensure that they do,” the source said.
Truckers blame non-commissioning of Tin-can/Oshodi expressway
Truckers under the aegis of Amalgamation of Container Truck Owners Association of Nigeria, ACTOAN, attributed the problem along Tin-can Island/Oshodi expressway to non-commissioning of the completed construction work.
Speaking with Vanguard on the constant gridlock witnessed inward Fagbems, Mile 2, Coconut to Tin-can Second Gate, the Chairman of ACTOAN, Bello Ridwan, said the call up system christened “ETO” is not working.
He called on the Federal Government to constitute a team comprising all the security agencies and the unions of truckers and tankers. He said the team should not be stationary but mobile to prevent being compromised.
His words: “They did not officially commission the road that is why the truck drivers are not responding to directives to leave the road and go to the truck parks.
“With the ETO, the call up system they are using, no truck should be on that road. That is why we pleaded with the Federal Government, the Ministry of Works to conclude the construction project. If the Ministry of Works says today that the road is open for commercial activities; you will see that all those trucks will leave.
“Let the government commission the road, let all the government agencies be pulled together, they should not be stationary but mobile; including the unions who are able to identify their members who are not complying with the rules.
“Ports Standing Task Team, PSTT, is only concerned with outward consignments, we have held meetings with them, they said they are more concerned with the outward cargo. They are looking for more cooperation from the NPA.”
Reminded that most of the security agencies and non-state actors are presently along that route, he said they have been able to chase non-state actors away along Coconut, Tin-can inward route but those along the Cocoa-nut to Mile2 axis are so dangerous.
“If the Federal Government is not directly involved in chasing away these non-state actors, there might be a problem and breakdown of law and order,” he added.
However, Head of operations, National Association of Road Transport Owners, NARTO, Bidemi Adara, attributed the constant gridlock to the exclusion of truck owners and drivers from the e-call-up system, ETO.
“The ETO cannot work because the operators have not carried along the various unions. They do not understand the route and do not work with the unions.
“If they want to get rid of the gridlock, they should hold meetings with all the various unions, there will be solutions.”
Residents, motorists task Sanwo-Olu, new Transport commissioner on solution
Amid the suffering, distraught residents and motorists have called on Governor Sanwo-Olu and the new Commissioner for Transportation, Mr. Seun Osiyemi, to promptly intervene in the traffic logjam.
In separate chats with Vanguard, they called the attention of Sanwo-Olu, in particular and Osiyemi, to the need to deploy a new strategy to tackle the resurgence of traffic following the failure of the electronic-call-up system of the NPA.
To worsen the situation, LASTMA operatives have been withdrawn by the management over claims of harassment and bribery allegations levelled against its officers.
Residents and motorists in the axis are left at the mercy of the truckers, who line up their vehicles along the road, majorly from Second Rainbow to Mile-2 and further to Berger Yard, making it practically impossible for other road users to ply.
Motorists, who ply the axis also raised alarm over increasing rates of criminal activities, following the resurgence of traffic gridlock in the axis.
Mr. Adeoye Oluwasegun, who works in one of the companies in the area, however, commended Sanwo-Olu on his earlier efforts to tackle the gridlock but urged him to be more active and stern in solving the gridlock in the interest of the public.
He said: “The governor needs to be firm and decisive if he is serious about solving the Apapa gridlock once and for all. What happened to the initial arrangement on the call-up system? The system has failed and the governor is not doing anything about it. This is absolutely unfair to the public. We are suffering amid this subsidy removal effects.”
A motorist, who simply identified himself as Mr. George Ebuka, while lamenting the situation, said: “Since the gridlock resurfaced, traffic robbers also have returned, robbing motorists and pedestrians.”
Mr. Andrew Daniel, a resident of Mile-2 Estate, described the situation as “pathetic,” saying, “we live in fear every day as the armed robbers are so daring that they carry out their operation at any time of the day.
“We are helpless, Governor Sanwo-Olu and the new commissioner should come to our aid. Apapa traffic is not free as claimed in some quarters.”
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