VANGUARD HEADLINE: Lagos at standstill as over 12,000 trucks choke roads

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Over 12,337 tankers and container-laden trucks are at present illegally parked in different parts of Lagos, just as the entire stretch of the dual carriage Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, inward Tin Can/Apapa, has been invaded and seized by over 5,000 articulated trucks. Consequently, traffic on the ever-busy road has been totally paralysed with attendant untold suffering for motorists, commuters and other road users.

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Vanguard’s on-the-spot counting of illegally-parked trucks and tankers on roads and bridges within Apapa and environs, including far-flung places in Lagos, shows  that no fewer than 12,337 of them are scattered in different locations in the areas visited. A breakdown of this shows that from Iyana Isolo to Tin Can, there are 3,200 trucks parked on the road; Ijora to Palmgrove, 3,485; from Marine Bridge to Ijora, 1850 and down the bridge, 1050; from Stadium to Eko Bridge, 874; from Costain—Stadium-Alaka—Fadeyi, 865; from Berger Suya to Kirikiri Road(New Road Bus stop, 678; from Wilmer Bridge to Awodiora(Ajegunle), 187; from Coker  to Costain Bridge, 63. The entire Berger area has 671 of these articulated vehicles of which 210 are parked on the bridge. Invasion,  seizure of  Oshodi-Apapa  Expressway The permanent shutdown of traffic on the expressway began on Monday when the articulated vehicles descended on the road in seeming vengeful fury, forming  tight-parking queues that stretched all the way to Coker Bus stop, denying other motorists and road users going to Mile Two, Berger and beyond access to the road. By Tuesday, it extended to Ilasa and got to Iyana Isolo yesterday.

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And with no official reaction to check the trend,  many worried road users have expressed the fear that the siege of trucks was sure to get to Oshodi by today. Cause of   gridlock, NPA’s  suspension of  shipping companies The unfortunate situation which seemingly reached its excruciating climax yesterday has been linked to the recent suspension for 10 days of four major shipping lines by the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA. The companies which suspension which took effect from July 14, 2018, are Maersk, Cosco Shipping, APS and Lansal.

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Although NPA had indicated that the suspension was part of efforts to resolve a protest by truck drivers at the Lagos Ports Complex and the Tin Can Island Port, Mr Isah Suwaid, Assistant General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications Division of NPA, had in a statement also informed that following investigations by the Authority, it was found  that the four companies failed to fully comply with the directive to acquire and operate holding bays.

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According to him, their shortcoming in this regard implied that they have either failed to utilize their holding bays or do not have adequate capacity to handle the volume of containers that they deal with. He did not stop there. “Some of these companies have also been found to import a larger number of containers than empty containers exported thereby, making the country a dumping ground for empties.

“This has contributed to the persistent congestion around the Lagos Port Complex and the Tin Can Island Port  spreading to other parts of  Lagos metropolis where truck drivers with no immediate business at the ports now park their trucks on the expressways. “Stakeholders have agreed that while the call-up system through the ports management as advised by shipping companies will remain in force, personnel of the Nigerian Navy will discontinue the issuance of call ups, even though they will remain on the traffic management team.”

But rather than solve the problem, the NPA action has instead complicated it as the suspended companies had no choice but to unleash their horde of trucks on the expressway and surrounding roads, causing horrendous traffic congestion. With NPA adamant and still threatening that the companies can only be permitted further use of the port area after review of the level of compliance to its directives and to determine further actions at the expiration of   their 10-day  suspension, the situation is likely to remain dire and may get worse as the days go by. AMATO’s  reaction

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