The Lagos State Government has moved to take over from the Presidential Taskforce on Port Decongestion and create a new operational template for the taskforce.
This is seen as part of the steps being taken by the state government to restore sanity to the Apapa axis that has been bedeviled by serious traffic congestion, which has impacted negatively on businesses and lives in that environment.
The disclosure was made by the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, during an unplanned fact-finding visit to Apapa, on Monday, to ascertain the causes of incessant gridlocks on roads leading to the seaports, which revealed several factors responsible for the congestion.
The governor said that the new operational template for the presidential task force would be enforced by a combined team of officers of Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) and the police.
During the visit with members of the state cabinet, the Governor physically assessed the complexity of the situation that allowed heavy-duty trucks to clog up the access roads, as a blame game ensued between stakeholders operating within and around the Apapa seaports.
While the Committee of Freight Forwarders and Maritime Truckers (COFFAMAT) blamed the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) officials, Presidential Taskforce on Port Decongestion and the police for the corruption that allowed truck drivers to park indiscriminately on the road, the Council of Maritime Transport Union and Association (COMTUA) absolved the police and Taskforce, accusing COFFAMAT, truck drivers and other stakeholders of not playing by the rules.
A customs licensed clearing and forwarding agent, Mr. Boniface Okoye, heaped the blame on the customs for giving undue access to the shippers’ council to leave empty containers in the port areas, while pointing an accusing finger at the police for looking away after allegedly collecting kickbacks.
Following the accusations and counter-accusations by the stakeholders, Sanwo-Olu revealed the plans of the State Government to checkmate activities of all operators that had led to the problems being experienced in the area.
The Governor wondered why container-laden trucks not yet called upon for loading in the ports were indiscriminately parked on the newly rehabilitated Tincan Road, instead of moving into the approved terminal provided by the Government.
What the Lagos State Governor is saying
Sanwo-Olu disclosed the plans of the state government to restore sanity to the roads on that axis.
The Governor said, “This is about the fourth time which my Government has been trying to address Apapa gridlock and bring sanity back to the area. On each occasion we had come here, we knew that there were road constructions. This time around, there has been a lot of improvement and we have seen that a lot of the roads within Apapa have been completed. But, there has been no respite for commuters in terms of free traffic flow.
“Our plan is to bring about cohesive system where all stakeholders would understand their roles and resolve challenges being encountered. Since last year, the Presidential Taskforce has been working on this issue. Now, there is a process that is starting in which the State Government is taking over the task force. This is one of the reasons for this trip to Apapa today; to ascertain what needs to be done. We will have a team of policemen and LASTMA dedicated to Apapa Ports for enforcement of task force’s mandates.”
The Governor said the visit to the ports would be followed up with stakeholders’ engagement with NPA, shipping companies’ owners and freight forwarders, stressing that a situation where truck drivers needed to wait for about 10 hours for handing over of operation from one NPA team to another was not acceptable.
Sanwo-Olu pointed out that the sharp practices and inadequacies observed in the handling of the container operations at the ports would be escalated to the Minister of Transport, adding that the misconducts of the policemen stationed close to the ports would be reported to the Inspector General of Police (IGP).
He said: “Lagos State Government is not the owner of the ports whose operations is causing pain to residents, but we owe a duty to our citizens whose lives and businesses have been badly impacted because of the gridlocks created in this part of the State. I believe this trip would give us another opportunity where all of us, as stakeholders, will be able to identify impediments and resolve the issues once and for all.”
What you should know
- It can be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari inaugurated a Presidential Taskforce headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Comrade Kayode Opeifa as Vice Chairman to restore sanity on the Apapa axis, following the total collapse of law and order which led to indiscriminate parking of heavy articulated vehicles like trucks, tankers, and containerized heavy-duty vehicles on roads leading to Apapa and its environs.
- However, following the restoration of some level of normalcy on the axis with the disappearance of trucks and tankers on the bridges and roads, the Federal Government announced the withdrawal of the Presidential Taskforce.
APAPA GRIDLOCK: LAGOS MOVES TO TAKE OVER PRESIDENTIAL TASKFORCE OPERATION, AS SANWO-OLU VISITS AREA AGAIN
— The Lagos State Govt (@followlasg) December 28, 2020