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Motorists, residents groan over worsening Apapa traffic

By Bertram Nwannekanma and Paul Adunwoke
02 June 2021   |   4:18 am
Motorists and residents who ply or live in the Apapa axis have continued to groan over worsening traffic situation in the area. Apapa is home to two busiest ports in Nigeria.

Traffic situation along the road PHOTO: PAUL ADUNWOKE

Motorists and residents who ply or live in the Apapa axis have continued to groan over worsening traffic situation in the area. Apapa is home to two busiest ports in Nigeria. However, what could have been a blessing has turned a nightmare for motorists and residents as inefficiency of operators of the ports worsens the situation.

Despite efforts by the government to eliminate the causes, Apapa traffic has remained a monster that defies all remedies.

Consequently, businesses have continued to suffer, while commuting has remained a herculean task. Apart from losses in man-hour on traffic, property incomes have continued to suffer.

It is not uncommon to see all kinds of articulated vehicles and tankers parked at entry points to the seaports and it was no different yesterday.

When The Guardian visited the area, container-laden trucks and tankers parked indiscriminately on access roads. Motorists and residents expressed worry that the gridlock had defied the electronic solutions.

They noted that the defiant disposition of motorists, commuters and truck drivers in the Apapa environs need government urgent intervention to improve traffic flow down to Oshodi-Apapa Expressway.

A motorist, Mr. Olalikan Olariwaju, who works in Apapa, recounted his experience, saying: “Driving through Oshodi-Apapa Expressway has become a nightmare.

“The journey, which should take me less than 10 minutes, ended up spending four hours from Second Rainbow to Berger Yard.

“I could not see a single traffic officer managing the traffic. The only men on the road are hoodlums and transport union members. The government has finally abandoned us to our fate in Apapa.”

Also, a resident, Mrs. Monica Godwin, lamented: “I spend up to eight hours daily trying to pass through Mile-2 to Oshodi, where my business is located.

“We suffer on a daily basis while going for our businesses and we need government intervention to put an end to this gridlock.” Mr. Gabriel Oni, a business owner in Apapa, noted that security agents and hoodlums had also taken over the control of traffic between Mile 2 and Tin-Can Island Port, adding that the road construction was also a factor against free flow of traffic.

He said the take-off of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), electronic call system was not properly done as some factors were not considered.

Oni said government should go back to the drawing board and re-strategise with a view to improving traffic. Narrating his ordeal, a resident, Adejare Ojo, said he had to vacate his family house in Apapa for an apartment in Surulere because of the traffic situation.

According to him, the new electronic call-up system adopted for trucks, as a permanent solution to the congestion around Apapa and its environs has not yielded the desired results.

The electronic truck call-up system, he said, was designed for the management of truck movement and access to and from the port. All trucks are required to park at the approved truck parks until they are called up into the port through the Eto app.

But, the Vice Chairman of the Presidential Task Team, PTT, Kayode Opeifa, told The Guardian that the problem of Apapa would continue until government implements the recommendations of the team set up by the Federal Government to tackle the problem.

He alleged that Apapa traffic was created by persons benefiting from it. He urged the government to implement the report of PTT.
Opeifa, a former commissioner of transport, said Lagos State Government should leave the operation of the ports to terminal operators and focus on enforcement of the Lagos State traffic laws.

“There should be no committee in Apapa. The Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) and the police should be allowed to do their jobs; there is no need for any task force. The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) management, the traffic managers and ports managers of Apapa and TinCan ports are first set of people to be investigated because they are condoning wrong activities of terminal operators. The minister of transport should show more interest because he has the capacity to put everything in order,” he added.

Efforts to get the Lagos State Commissioner for Transportation, Dr. Frederick Oladeinde’s comment on the persistent traffic situation was unsuccessful as he did not pick his calls or reply text messages sent to his mobile phone.

But the commissioner had, during the Year 2021 Ministerial Press Briefing, as part of activities to commemorate the second anniversary of the Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s administration, said about 2,000 LASTMA personnel were deployed to manage the traffic around Apapa.

He also said the lasting solution to Apapa gridlock is to have other seaports. He said: “Sequel to the taking over of Apapa Traffic Management and control from the Presidential Task Team, the state government set up the Apapa Special Traffic Management and Compliance Enforcement Team, headed by the Special Adviser to the Governor on Transportation, Toyin Fayinka, to restore sanity and socio-economic prosperity to Apapa and environs.

“We have partnered the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), in the introduction of an e-Call-Up system for truck access into the ports, and collaborated with NPA in the establishment of truck parks (holding bays) in different locations, across the state, to help get trailers off the road.

“We initiated the expansion of the Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu (ABAT), Truck Park from 12 hectares to 31 hectares to increase the capacity of the park and accommodate more trucks in the Apapa area.”