Apapa truck owners partially comply with presidential order as directive expires
Truck owners on the Apapa Port Access roads partially complied with the directive to vacate the corridor as President Muhammadu Buhari’s executive order to quit the roads within 72 hours expired yesterday.
The Guardian observed that though the truck owners were yet to remove vehicles from the roads, some measure of sanity had returned inwards the port, as trucks and tankers filed a single stretch that snaked across roads inwards the port.
Experts, however, said the development forced a pushback of tankers and trucks around Mile 2, Satellite Town and FESTAC axis of the state.
But in a renewed effort to tackle perennial traffic gridlock in Apapa, President Buhari had ordered immediate clearing up of the Apapa gridlock and restoration of law and order to Apapa and its environs within two weeks.
In this regard, operators of trucks and tankers were given a five-day ultimatum to remove their assets from the roads, as the directive followed an emergency meeting convened by Buhari and chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on April 25, 2019.
As at 2pm yesterday, trucks were still stationed on some portions of major roads like the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, Burma, Creek, and Commercial roads just as there was heavy presence of security operatives ahead of moves to implement the directive.
A truck driver, simply identified as Abayo, commended the new approach of handling the trucks, saying it has a better prospect of ensuring free-flowing traffic, if sustained, adding however, that application of force in the implementation was not the solution, but has to be holistic, gradual and consistent.
By the new arrangement, most of the trucks are to stay outside of the Apapa area, otherwise called the red zones until they have a business at the port. For those with businesses, they are to file into the Lilypond holding bay area, otherwise called the yellow-zone, pending the call-up into the port or green area.
The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) had recently converted the Lilypond terminal at Ijora, along Western Avenue into a temporary transit trailer park to ease the gridlock.
A safety and environment consultant, Patrick Adenusi, said the directive was a welcome development, with its impact already felt around Eko Bridge, Alaka, CMS and Ijora Olopa.
Adenusi said even traffic around Apapa had been compressed to a single lane, which “is a measure of sanity” in the area.
He said: “It is a right step going forward towards having order restored. Before, it was disorder, which led to a lot of illegalities. The major concern is not the starting, but the continuity. If not, things will go back to the old order.”
He added that to fully solve the problem, rail services must be deployed and roads made accessible.
Secretary, Road Transport Employees Association of Nigeria (RTEAN), Tincan, Apapa Kiri- Kiri Chapel, Godwin Ikeji, expressed concerns that the new directive may fall on the wrong path, “if the major stakeholders are not involved in the process”.
Ikeji, who described the Apapa situation as an “insult on our nation” said no amount of task force or regulation would solve the problem, if all parties involved do not agree on the way forward.