By Olasunkanmi Akoni, Godwin Oritse & Godfrey Bivbere
LAGOS—AN emergency stakeholders’ meeting between representatives of the Lagos State Government and union leaders in ports operation, yesterday, ended in a deadlock.
This came on a day the Apapa-Oshodi expressway was on lockdown, as truckers and tankers parked indiscriminately on the road, causing untold hardship to motorists, commuters, and businesses in the area.
The meeting, held in Alausa, Ikeja, was called on the instance of the state government as part of efforts to ease the gridlock through the newly introduced Electronic Call-Up system.
The meeting was attended by head of the Lagos Special Traffic Management and Enforcement Compliance Team, Mr. Toyin Fayinka, and representatives of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, led by its Lagos chairman, Tayo Aboyeji and the Association of Maritime Truck Owners, among others.
The meeting, however, failed to yield results on the deployment of the e-call up system by truckers, particularly, tanker drivers along Oshodi-Apapa Expressway.
Efforts to get official reactions from the unions’ representatives failed as they declined to comment, but directed newsmen to speak with government officials.
It was gathered that the stakeholders blamed the current gridlock on the ongoing road constructions around the axis, activities of tankers due to the high number of tank farms located along the axis, as well as bad roads.
We’re inviting the Military — Lagos govt
Speaking to Vanguard at the end of the inconclusive meeting, Fayinka expressed concern over the development, saying “there must be way out of the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway gridlock.”
Fayinka said: “We are also looking at the option of involving the military in complementing the enforcement team for effective results. We cannot continue with the indiscipline and disorderly behaviour along the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway.
“However, we have been able to restore a measure of sanity around Ijora, Area B axis of the Apapa through effective deployment of e-call up system.
“The NUPENG representatives at the meeting told us that the e-Call Up system is not compatible with their operation, as there are no parking lots provided for tankers. More so, the e-Call Up system is the initiative of the Nigeria Ports Authority, NPA, which is not under the union’s authority.
“But, we will continue to engage our members on the need to keep off the road, so that other users can have access.”
We need parking space for tankers—NUPENG official
But a NUPENG official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “There is no way you will not continue to have tankers along the road. They have to go into depots to lift oil products.
“There is no parking space provided for them; the Trinity and Coconut roads that are still under construction, and which the contractor has abandoned, are the major problems in the area.
“We have 30 tank farms along the Oshodi-Apapa, Coconut area. So, the gridlock is inevitable because they have to service tankers coming into the country in their thousands.”
We’re helpless— Customs
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, has said that it was helpless over the gridlock, particularly at the Mile-2 end of the Apapa–Oshodi expressway, adding that the traffic has negatively impacted its revenue generation.
Speaking to Vanguard, Controller of the command, Comptroller Festus Okun, said: “The port access road has also greatly impacted negatively on our operations.
”At a time, it took four to five days for cargoes released to move from the port to Tin-Can, before they could join the access road.
“But we later discovered that it was a little bit easy for cargoes to go out at the weekend. So, we had to organize our officers to open the gate 24 hours from Friday to Monday, and we discovered that it worked.”
We were not integrated into e-call up— NARTO
Also speaking, a member of the National Executive Council of the National Association of Road Transport Owners, NARTO, Mr. Mohammed Inuwa said that the ongoing road construction and non-integration of tankers owners to the Electronic Truck call system is also major cause of the traffic situation.
Inuwa said: “The ongoing road construction is a major challenge hindering the free flow of traffic along the port corridor; this is also in addition to the non-integration of tankers owners to the newly introduced Electronic call-up system initiated by the Nigerian Ports Authority.”
Traffic worsens, robbers return
Meanwhile, the traffic situation worsened, yesterday, as commuters had to walk several kilometers to their places of work and businesses due to the logjam.
A hand full of security personnel, including officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA, were barely visible on the road. They could not salvage the situation as they kept off the road.
Similarly, traffic robbers returned to the road after many months of absence to rob motorists and passersby of their valuables.
A victim, Mr. Muritala Adigun, a motorist, recounted how the robbers attacked him on Wednesday carting away some valuables.
Adigun said: “I was stuck in the traffic around Sanya Bus stop along the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway for several hours. I ran into it around 4 pm and by 6.30 pm when it was getting dark, three firece-looking guys appeared in between the trucks and pounced on my car, brandishing dangerous weapons and I was alone. They demanded money, phones and other valuables from me.
“Fortunately, I hid my phone when I saw it was getting dark. They only managed to empty my wallet with N5, 000, an identity card and complimentary cards. After they were done, they hurriedly moved to the car behind me and repeating the same. There was no police presence or any other security personnel.
“The situation is terrible. The government has abandoned the people in this part of the state. We are at God’s mercy. This is callous and irresponsible on the part of the government, very pathetic.”
Vanguard News Nigeria
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Post author: Oboh