Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
The Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, yesterday in Abuja stated that reconstruction of the collapsed Lagos – Badagry Expressway will formally resume in the next two weeks.
The road has been an eye-sore and a nightmare to the people of Lagos, particularly motorists, commuters and residents plying the route over the years.
Answering questions from journalists in the State House on the state of the road, after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, Sanwo-olu who said he visited the road two days after he assumed office, disclosed that machinery had been put in place to ensure that the contractor returns to site at the end of June.
Sanwo-Olu added that he had inspected the road twice since he assumed office.
He explained that between this weekend and early next week, discussions with the contractor on the road would end and work would commence in earnest.
“I was on that road two days after I was sworn-in precisely and we’ve gone round. I’ve been there twice now in about two weeks. So, the commitment we got was that the contractors would move into site before the end of this month and I am still relaying that in the month of June, we should be closing out the discussions with the contractor over the weekend early next week.
“We are hoping that barely any unforeseen circumstance, they should be moving-in in another two to three weeks’ time, meaning that the clean-up and the construction of the Badagary expressway returns back in earnest,” he said.
Also speaking on the decongestion of Oshodi-Apapa expressway, Sanwo-Olu said certain false claims had been circulating in the media that he promised during the electioneering that he would decongest the road within his first 60 days in office.
He denied making the comment, saying rather he promised that his government would carry out a review of previous activities on the road within 60 days.
The governor who said he thanked the president for federal government’s intervention in the decongestion of the road, added that whereas port operators causing gridlock on the road are federal agencies, it is actually the people of the state who bear the pains.
According to him, the reconstruction of Oshodi-Apapa road has commenced but it is yet to attain the level where it can be noticed, adding that the evacuation of tankers causing congestion on the road has equally begun.
Sanwo-Olu further explained that the reform currently being carried out by the Nigeria Ports Authority and stakeholders on the road involves an innovation termed “call-up,” which he described as a device prohibiting tanker drivers from leaving their parks, until they are called up.
He explained that whereas the process is currently being operated manually, it will graduate into an electronic device very soon.
According to him, a terminal has been created by the NPA to serve as a park for the tankers, pointing out that the Lagos State Transport Management Authority (LASTMA) along with the police, shipping companies and terminal operators will complement one another in the efforts to entrench sanity on the road and the ports’ environs.
“Interestingly, some media houses have actually started counting down on me. They said that I mentioned during the campaign that I was going to clear it in 60 days. I had mentioned it before, what I said was that in 60 days, we would review what was done but that does not take the fact that even if people give you dateline, it’s because they want you to do well and they want you to be able to be accountable for those datelines.
“It’s one of the things I thanked Mr. President for. What was done was that the federal government has set up a task force. It’s a multi-faceted challenge. There are different stakeholders that are involved in one way or the other as operators, observers, practitioners and stakeholders in the entire Apapa gridlock and most of them are federal agencies in one form or the other. But it is we the citizens of Lagos State that are bearing the entire burden.
“The real construction of the road has started, but it’s not at the stage in which we can feel the full impact of it. That’s on one side. The movement of the tanker drivers has also started. There is a lily pond terminal that has been created with NPA and other terminal operators which I imagine have started doing what we call the call-up system.
“What I understand by the call up is that it’s a system that needs to be a bit more electronically-driven. I think it’s currently run manually now but if we can get a software that can enhance it and enforce it, the call-up system can become something that can hold the tanker drivers accountable. If you’re not called on to come unto the port, you are not meant to come. But beyond that is to look at the entire value chain. Who are the users and who are the operators in that space?
“So, you have the shipping companies, the port terminal operators, the Nigeria Shippers Council. You have the NPA who is the major anchor tenant there. Then, you also have all sorts of operators – LASTMA who is supposed to be the arm of Lagos State helping hand; the police who are also supposed to help out with security and one or two others. So, all of us need to complement each other,” he said.
Sanwo-Olu who disclosed that Lagos State Government had also created a park for tankers in Orile-Iganmu area of the state with a view to decongesting the road, noted that the state government was also discussing with investors on the necessity to create other ports in Lekki and Badagry because the Apapa port has been stretched beyond its initial design.
The governor said the coming of two other ports is one of the long- term solutions that will put paid to the menace around the Apapa ports, adding that he will be meeting with port operators next week, including Nigeria Shippers’ Council to harmonise views on the matter.
“Sometimes next week, I am also having a meeting with the shippers’ council, port operators and the shipping lines so that we all can be on the same page and understand that we are all in this together and we all must find a permanent solution.
“Like I did mention two – three weeks ago when I first went there, it’s for us to also have another port. The Apapa port itself has grown beyond where it is now. That is why Lagos State is speaking with investors to see how we can push either the Lekki Port or the Badagary Port as the long term alternative to the Apapa Port because that would be the long term solution in terms of our growth of development as a nation,” he added.
Sanwo-Olu further said he discussed security issues in Lagos State with the president and related challenges confronting the state and his response was quite encouraging.