Marketers laud easing of Apapa gridlock
Major marketers, tanker drivers and transport owners have commended the efforts of Western Navy Command through the joint Security Task Force for their timely intervention in clearing the Apapa gridlock menace that had hitherto proved impossible to clear and was becoming a festering sore in the operations of the Apapa Ports and businesses in the area, as well as daily commuting on the Apapa corridor.
They commended the FOC Western Naval Command of the Nigerian Navy, Rear Admiral SAG Abbah and the Commander of NNS Beecroft Commodore Okon Eyo for the clearance of the gridlock, which has opened up the Apapa area for more business operations to go on and for them to further deliver their services to Nigerians in a timely manner.
They all agreed that the efforts of the government through the security agencies deserve applause and should be encouraged, noting that the intervention not only helps the larger society but also helps improve the turn-around time of the downstream sector by reducing the turning around time for loading products from the depots and delivery of the products to retail outlets.
The gridlock has been completely cleared on the highways leading into Apapa, leaving Western Avenue on the Surulere and Orile Iganmu axis as the problem spot.Aside from this, the Navy has maintained an effective cover over the Apapa area and has forged a fluid partnership with Major Marketers and associated Unions in the downstream in ensuring a smooth passage of traffic with positive impact on businesses and commuters along the Apapa corridor.
At a recent stakeholders’ workshop organised by the major marketers with the Navy, a tanker driver said the success was due to the efforts of the Navy working in tandem with major marketers and that what was done was to harness the resources at their disposal together with the support of Lagos State government. He said since the Navy took over the clearing operations, there has been the deployment of an effective logistic strategy which involves the use of call card signed by the Navy commander for authentication of trucks due for loading and passage into the Apapa area.
On how the marketers were able to comply, a top official of a major marketer in the area said they all made conscious efforts to ensure that their trucks are housed within the marshaling yard, their holding bay. He said: “That was simply what we did and with the cooperation of the union, the Petroleum Tankers Drivers Union, who also cooperated with us to ensure that their drivers also listened to us, with the trucks in the marshaling yards”.
He attributed the success to series of weekly meetings held amongst the stakeholders where the gridlock clearance was the major point of discussion.On the spillover to Western Avenue, he said: “It is also important to mention that most of those trucks we have on the road do not have a holding bay, so those ones are outside the coverage of the operations of the Navy. And I am sure and aware that the Navy is also engaging with the NPA to free up spaces within Apapa Port where those trucks can park before they go into the port to do whatever operations they want to do. That is what I know that is going to work out, but like I said for us, our trucks shouldn’t be on the road because we have the holding bay to house them.”
The major marketers are seeking permission from the Navy commander to let their trucks move to the operators holding bay because as observed, the trucks being on the queue is not too good since their holding bay in the area can contain more than 400 trucks.Another official of another major marketer with tankers in the area said: “Our trucks should not be on the queue but at our various holding bays to increase turnaround as we all have parking space outside the area which makes it hard to understand the reason why trucks have to be on the queue and cause the gridlock”.He said they have resolved to embrace the call card system introduced by the Naval authorities as they see themselves as partners in progress with the Navy but want little adjustment to take care of some unforeseen occurrences especially as regards loading and delivering products around Apapa.
On whether payment was done before the gridlock was cleared, he asserted that it was a voluntary effort from the combined security team, saying: “The operation you see, we did not contribute money to make it happen and the Navy did not ask for money. What you see is the gracious effort of the Navy by not keeping their men in the barracks but rather choosing to deploy them to help arrest an hitherto hopeless situation, thus clearing roads with great economic importance to Nigeria. Again, it is important to mention that the state government has a security arm called ‘Operation Messa’ which is a combination of the Navy, Army, Air force and the Police and they all combined to make the gridlock disappear within a month”.
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