• Sets up joint operation to restore order in Apapa
• Asks FG to defer closure of Third Mainland Bridge
The Lagos State Government Thursday lamented the intractable traffic congestion, which had crippled commercial activities in Apapa and other parts of the state and appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to save the situation.
The state government also set up a joint operation involving security agencies and stakeholders in the maritime sector to remove all trucks and tankers parked along the Oshodi-Apapa expressway with immediate effect.
The Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Kehinde Bamigbetan, in a statement in Lagos, said the state government, at a meeting with stakeholders, blamed the renewed congestion on the recalcitrance of owners and drivers of articulated vehicles to fully comply with the subsisting directive that restricts their movement within the state.
He also attributed the worsened traffic congestion to the ongoing industrial action by a section of workers at the Apapa ports, which had slowed down the pace of goods clearance, as well as the slow pace of repair works on the roads leading to the ports, most of which are federal roads.
He lamented that the federal government had not done enough to enforce order in Apapa and its environs, a situation the state government said culminated in the return of traffic congestion that paralysed the entire areas.
He said: “If the power of the state is inadequate to force these powerful merchants to obey the law, shall we also say that the federal government with all the forces at its command is unable to protect residents of Lagos against this common threat?”
He noted that while the president had assured the state that the federal government would tackle Apapa’s gridlock decisively, the latest hardship made the much needed intervention extremely imperative.
Bamigbetan, therefore, asked the federal government “to reschedule the proposed closure dates for the Third Mainland Bridge to a later date to avoid compounding the traffic congestion in Apapa”.
He explained that Ikorodu road and adjoining roads would not be adequate to cope if Third Mainland Bridge was shut for repairs at a time that Apapa-Oshodi Expressway and others leading in and out of the ports were experiencing an unusual, albeit, temporary traffic snarl.
Bamigbetan said: “It is indeed pathetic that private firms seeking to make profit from legitimate commerce will continue to subject the citizens of Lagos State to horrendous pains in spite of the provision of holding bays for their trucks and tankers until it is their turn to pick goods at the ports.”
At a meeting with maritime stakeholders Thursday, held at the state police command, Ikeja, the Commissioner for Police, Mr. Imohimi Edgal, explained the decision to set up the operation, which according to him, became imperative because of the need to restore sanity and prevent complete breakdown of law and order in Apapa.
The meeting was attended by the leaders of Amalgamation of Container Truck Owners Association, Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), National Association of Transport Operators (NATO), and Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO), among others.
After the meeting, the stakeholders unanimously resolved to set up a joint operation tagged: ‘Operation Restore Sanity on Lagos Roads,’ which would comprise 1,000 police officers, 500 LASTMA officials, 100 civil defence corps, 120 officials of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) and 250 personnel of the Nigerian armed forces.
Addressing the media after the meeting, Edgal acknowledged that the Apapa traffic congestion gave rise to the sorry state of federal roads and bridges that linked the ports due to what he ascribed to ports operational problems, activities of tank farms and shipping lines.
He said all stakeholders agreed that the operation should commence with immediate effect, while the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) and other relevant agencies would work to fashion out permanent solution to the issues within the ports which gave rise to the gridlock.