Apapa congestion: Contractor abandons ABAT truck terminal due to budget delay
• As Articulated Vehicles Continue To Park On Roads, Bridges
Lagosians, especially those living along the Apapa/Oshodi Expressway and Orile Iganmu axis, are yet to experience relief from articulated trucks parked recklessly and indiscriminately on both sides of the road. Experiences of residents in these areas have been nightmarish, to say the least.
Aside traffic gridlocks that usually waste precious man-hours; some residents have found it difficult accessing their homes due to blockage arising from snarls. In the face of the stress arising from the situation, some residents have had to temporarily abandon their homes until government finds a permanent solution.
Long before the current administration came on board, one of the solutions proffered by government and well-meaning Nigerians, was the establishment of truck terminals to be solely occupied by trailers and tankers that have business to do at Apapa Port and other ports along that axis.
Many years down the line, what has become of the truck terminals government claimed to have built? Why are trailers still lining both sides of the roads, thereby causing avoidable headache to citizens?A visit to one of these terminals revealed that the work was far from being completed.Months after the expansion of the Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu (ABAT) Truck Terminal at Orile-Iganmu being handled by Planet Project should have been completed and put to use by articulated truck drivers, the place is not really ready for use.
It would be recalled that on August 5, 2018, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode flagged off the expansion of the ABAT Truck Terminal, promising accelerated completion, so that it would be operating fully within six to eight weeks to get trucks off the roads and bridges within the axis.
The disheartening part for many residents, who had hoped for quick completion of the terminal, and for respite, is that the contractor has abandoned the project and has gone off site. Three months before the flag off exercise, on April 27, 2018, at the quarterly town hall meeting, Ambode pledged that the state government would immediately take over the ABAT Truck Terminal to commence immediate repairs, as part of efforts to permanently address the perennial congestion along Apapa axis.
When the governor flagged off the expansion, there were conflicting figures of the number of trucks the terminal could house. The Governor later clarified that the terminal would accommodate 1, 000 trucks. He added that his administration would collaborate with Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) so that the call-up system could work efficiently. It was learnt that the call-up system has not started as the truck were still being parked on roads, rather than truck parks which should facilitate easy coordination for the commencement of the call-up system.
However, when The Guardian visited the Orile-Iganmu truck terminal recently, it was devoid of construction activities that were evidenced weeks after Ambode flagged off the expansion programme. There was also no construction worker or construction equipment on site. It was gathered from some artisans working around the terminal that construction work stopped either late November or early December last year.
It was also gathered that the contractor, Planet Project, moved to site without any formal contract with the state government. He decided to go to site based on goodwill and an understanding that it had executed many projects for Lagos State. The contractor, it was learnt from a senior staff of the company, however, left site immediately Ambode lost the party primary, knowing full well that if he continued with the project, the company might find it difficult retrieving the money spent on executing it.
The Lagos State Ministry of Transport supervising the project holds a different position though, on why the project was abandoned. The ministry’s Permanent Secretary blamed the development on non-passage of the budget. He explained that the project would continue after passage of the budget. Interestingly, the truck park opposite Tincan Port Second Gate in Apapa has not been put to use roughly five years after it was completed. This was attributed to a faulty water breaker in the park.
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