Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
The presidency wednesday gave a two-week deadline for the removal of all impediments to free flow of traffic and all congestion around the Apapa port and its environs.
It also ordered operators of trucks and tankers parked along access roads to the ports to vacate the area within 72 hours.
A statement from the Office of the Vice-President in Abuja, said the directive was the fallout of an emergency meeting convened by President Muhammadu Buhari on April 25, this year and presided over Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo.
The statement, issued by Osinbajo’s spokesman, Mr. Laolu Akande, said the meeting came up with solutions to protracted gridlock around Lagos ports, which has continued to impede both port operations and comfort of residents.
In pursuit of resolutions at the meeting, the statement said a presidential task force, chaired by Osinbajo, was constituted to restore law and order to Apapa and its environs within two weeks. The taskforce is expected to file a progress report to the president.
The taskforce has as its terms of reference, the development of an efficient and effective management plan on traffic in the area; enforcement of permanent removal of all stationary trucks on the highway; the development of an effective manual truck call-up system pending the introduction of the electronic truck call-up system, among others.
“A presidential directive has been issued for the immediate clearing up of the Apapa gridlock and the restoration of law and order to Apapa and its environs within two weeks. The directive mandates the immediate removal of all trucks from the bridges and roads within Apapa and all adjoining streets leading into the Apapa axis.
“To facilitate this important assignment, operators of trucks and tankers have also been directed to vacate the port access roads within the next 72 hours.
“This directive follows an emergency meeting convened by President Muhammadu Buhari and chaired by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) on the 25th of April, 2019. The meeting proffered lasting solutions to the gridlock around the Lagos ports, as the traffic congestion has continued to restrict all operations and livelihood in the area,” the statement said.
It listed those at the meeting Buhari chaired to include key heads and representatives of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government, including the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola; Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu; representative of the Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral B.E.E Ibe-Enwo; Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Transportation, Dr. Salaam Taiwo Olufemi; and the Executive Director, Marine and Operations, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Dr. Sokonte Davies.
According to the statement, the presidential taskforce has included on its terms of reference the development of an efficient and effective management plan for the entire port area traffic, including the cargo, fuel distribution and business district traffic; enforcing the permanent removal of all stationary trucks on the highway, and the development of an effective manual truck call-up system, pending the introduction of the electronic truck call-up system.
It also includes the implementation of a workable empty container return and export container truck handling policy.
The statement listed members of the task force to include a former Commissioner for Transport in Lagos State, Mr. Kayode Opeifa, who is the Executive Vice Chairman; representatives of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), and the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC).
To achieve the target, the Nigerian Navy and all other military formations were mandated to quit traffic management duties in and around the Apapa axis while military and paramilitary checkpoints in front of the ports and their environs should be dismantled.
LASTMA has also been authorised to move to Apapa to lead traffic management in the area.
The government also directed NPA to commence immediately, the use of the Lilypond Terminal and Trailer Park A as a truck transit park.