By Abiodun Eromosele
The Executive Vice Chairman of the now rested Presidential Task Team on Apapa Restoration of Law and Order, Mr. Kayode Opeifa, yesterday dismissed allegations of corruption against its officials.
He blamed those he described as interested parties used to disorderliness in Apapa for sponsoring the allegations.
Opeifa, who had submitted a report on the organisation’s activities to the presidency, said the Lagos State Government would now continue where the task force stopped while the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) would fix its call-up system to manage the movement of trucks in and out of the ports.
Opeifa, at a media interaction yesterday in Lagos, described what it called coordinated negative media reports on the axis as the handiwork of those benefitting from the hitherto corrupt system in the nation’s busiest port.
On the allegations that extortion by the task force officials, along with others, has led to the rising transportation bottleneck and cost of haulage, he said genuine stakeholders are impressed by the return of orderliness on Apapa roads.
According to him, successes have been recorded in Apapa with the removal of heavy-duty trucks, petrol tankers and containerised trucks on the roads and bridges leading to the ports environment.
In addition, the bad roads are either undergoing construction or nearing completion of rehabilitation.
He added that the presidential task team has delivered on its mandate to restore order in Apapa even as he urged the Lagos State Government and stakeholders to take ownership and ensure orderliness.
Opeifa said instead of criticisms of the presidential task team, the federal government should be commended for addressing the problems in Apapa that had been neglected for years before the Buhari administration began doing so.
He cited the problems to include bad roads, corruption and absence of law and order.
“The presidential team recorded significant successes in easing the traffic situation in Apapa. Among these is the exit of tankers, containerised trucks and other heavy-duty trucks on the bridges along Ikorodu Road, particularly around Stadium, Iponri, Fadeyi, Onipanu and some parts of Ijora-Iganmu Road.
“The team, which further ensured that only vehicles with genuine documents were allowed into Apapa, also introduced a manual call-up system that guarantees a systematic, programmed movement of articulated vehicles into the port, which eliminated the many weeks’ duration heavy-duty vehicles usually spent on the same spot while trying to access Apapa,” he stated.
He added that most of the transportation challenges in Apapa are caused by the failure of some of the stakeholders to follow rules, “especially since the introduction of the manual-call-up system,” adding that traffic situation on the axis will continually improve if everyone complies with the rules.
Opeifa blamed the negative reports on Apapa on some ‘faceless’ individuals whose interest is in the continuation of the hitherto corrupt system rather than the restoration of law and order.
However, he appealed to stakeholders to stop cutting corners and adhere to rules and regulations in order to sustain the successes recorded in traffic management in the area.
“What we are seeing in Apapa is the case of the corruption fighting back. When they see that the system is not possible for them to escape because they are not supposed to be on the road, they will go to the media to allege corruption, which is not true. I have said that there is a calculated attempt to using the media to fight back by the people we displaced from the corrupt practices,” he stated.