Apapa Gridlock Persists as Truck Drivers Defy FG’s Order – THISDAY Newspapers

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We’re making progress, FRSC insists Eromosele Abiodun In what looks like a total defiance to the order given by the federal government that operators of trucks and tankers parked along access roads to the ports should vacate the area, the gridlock has persisted and overwhelmed the various agencies managing the traffic, THISDAY’s investigation has revealed. But the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) has said that the new task team to clear the gridlock was making progress as measures were also being put in place to ensure sustainability in accordance with the recent ultimatum by President Muhammadu Buhari. However, at the Lagos Port Complex and Creek road section of the port access road, trailers and other heavy-duty vehicles were no longer parked indiscriminately. It is a different story from Mile 2 to Liverpool Road section of Apapa-Oshodi Expressway as articulated vehicles blocked the roads despite efforts by the presidential task force to remove them from the roads. THISDAY gathered that the bad state of the Coconut and Tin-Can axis of the Apapa-Oshodi highway had prevented the task force from clearing that stretch of articulated vehicles on Sunday, thereby leaving the articulated vehicles on the Mile 2 axis. As at the time of filing this report, queue of the articulated vehicles had stretched down to Cele Bus Stop, with all of them maintaining one lane, and leaving the other two lanes for motorists to ply. A member of the task force who did not want his name in print told THISDAY that the difficult terrain of Coconut and Tin-Can axis of the Apapa-Oshodi highway was hampering the evacuation exercise. “We were able to remove a couple of trucks from the Coconut and Tin-Can axis today. We have given others still parked at Mile 2 an ultimatum of today to vacate or else we will arrest their trucks. Most of them are parked at Mile 2 under the pretext that the backlog at Coconut and Tin-Can is still there. They have till tomorrow to vacate that area,” he said. THISDAY also gathered that Ijora Bridge was completely blocked yesterday, forcing commercial buses and motorcycles to drive against the traffic When contacted yesterday, the National President of the Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO), Remi Ogungbemi, told THISDAY that his members were complying with the presidential directive, stressing that trucks were still on the road because the government order was restricted to containerised trucks. While urging Nigerians to be patient, he said there was no way the trucks would be completely off the roads as Apapa is a port area adding that no system is perfect. Meanwhile, the FRSC has said that the new task team to clear Apapa gridlock was making progress as measures were also being put in place to ensure sustainability in accordance with the recent President Buhari’s ultimatum. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that the team had commenced “’Operation Totality Enforcement” to ensure implementation of the president’s directive that trucks parking on Apapa roads should vacate with 72 hours. The Lagos State Sector Commander FRSC, Mr. Hyginus Omeje, told NAN that tremendous progress had been made in clearing the Apapa traffic constituted by the tankers and other articulated vehicles. According to him, the whole exercise started with stakeholders’ meetings to ensure everyone involved was carried along in the exercise. “We are making tremendous progress in clearing the gridlock along the corridor. “We started with a stakeholders meeting so that we can be on the same page with the organisations involved like Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), Nigeria Shippers Council and the transport unions. “We needed to appeal to the unions for them to take their vehicles to the various identified parks,” Omeje said. The FRSC boss said that a total of 54 private parks were identified where the trucks were expected to move into before going to the port with the assistance of manual call-up system that NPA was practising now. Omeje said that the Lily pond’s park had also opened for containerised vehicles for parking before accessing the port. He said that for all the vehicles carrying exports had access to the port directly because some of them carry perishable goods. “I can tell you that since Saturday, Sunday and up till this morning the task team has done a noble job. “This morning there is no more trucks on Eko bridge, all these vehicles you used to see up to Jibowu, Alaka to Stadium have all disappeared. “By Friday, everywhere will be clear of traffic caused by articulated vehicles along the corridor but we are not only clearing it, we are also putting measures in place for sustainability. “When the Presidential task team have finished with their job, then the enforcement arm of the various agencies involved, the FRSC, LASTMA and the Police will continue their statutory duty which is to control and manage traffic respectively,” he said. NAN reported that the vacation notice was issued last Wednesday as one of the outcomes of a meeting convened by President Buhari and chaired by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo on April 25. NAN also reported that FRSC, and Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) have begun “Operation Totality Enforcement’’ to ensure timely implementation of the president’s directive that trucks parking on Apapa roads should vacate with 72 hours.