Apapa Traffic Presidential Task Force, ended its work last month, helped to restore order in axis -Presidency

FG team to resolve problems around rise in haulage costs around Ports

The work of the Presidential Task Team on Restoration of law and order in Apapa ended last month when the team submitted a report to the Presidency, and returned responsibility on traffic management back to the Lagos State Government.

According to the report submitted by the Executive Vice Chairman of the now rested Presidential Task Team, Comrade Kayode Opeifa, the Lagos State Government would now take the task forward while the Nigerian Port Authority would fix it’s Call-Up System to effectively manage the movement of trucks in and out of the Ports.

Informed govt sources also disclosed that an urgent directive has been given yesterday from the Presidency to both the Transport and Works ministries to address the current problems in Apapa where the cost of haulage is said to have risen sharply. The Transport Minister is expected to visit the area before the week runs out at the head of an FG team for on the spot assessment and resolution.

Meanwhile in a media interaction yesterday Mr. Opeifa described what it called a coordinated negative media reports on the axis as handiwork of those benefitting from the hitherto corrupt system in the nation’s busiest port.

Since November after the Opeifa team had vacated the area and submitted its report, there has been several uncorroborated media reports linking the former Presidential Task Team to tales of corruption and illegal tolls around Apapa. Opeifa dismissed such claims.

Speaking on the allegations of rising transportation bottleneck and cost of haulage on the axis, former Lagos State Commissioner and former Vice-Chairman, Presidential Task Team, Comrade Kayode Opeifa, said that genuine stakeholders on the axis are impressed by the level of restoration of law and order that has taken place on Apapa axis as far as transportation are concerned.

The former Taskforce Chairman said a lot of successes have been recorded on Apapa axis with the removal of heavy-duty trucks, petrol tankers and containerised trucks on the roads and bridges leading to Apapa, adding that the roads that were initially in bad shaped are undergoing construction and near completion.

Recall that the Presidential task force started its work on May 24, 2019 following a Presidential directive issued for the immediate clearing up of the Apapa gridlock and the restoration of law and order to Apapa and its environs.

The Task Force has since concluded its work in November and handed over the traffic management of the Apapa axis to the Lagos State government.

The former Lagos State commissioner added that the Presidential task team has delivered on its mandate to restore order in the Apapa axis, even as he urged the Lagos State government and stakeholders to take ownership and ensure orderliness in maintained.

Opeifa added that instead of the unwarranted criticisms of the presidential task team, the federal government should be commended for taking a bold step to address the myriads of problems in Apapa that had been neglected for years before President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration began to address the problems, which include bad roads, corruption and absence of law and order in the axis.

Under its watch, the Presidential Team recorded significant successes in easing the traffic situation in Apapa. Among these is the exit of tankers, containerized trucks and other heavy-duty trucks on the bridges along Ikorodu road, particularly around Stadium, Iponri, Fadeyi, Onipan 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-ups system which 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.

The ex Vice-Chairman added that most of the transportation challenges on Apapa are caused by the failure of some of the stakeholders to follow laid down rules, especially since the introduction of the manual-call-up system, adding that traffic situation on the axis would continually improve if everyone complies with the laid down 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 restoration of law and order in Apapa axis. However, he appealed to stakeholders on the axis to stop cutting corners and adhere to the established rules and regulations in order to sustain the successes recorded in traffic management in the area.

He said “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 of using the media to fight back by the people we displaced from the corrupt practices.

“People should follow the legitimate rules. There is a rule which guides movement of vehicles into Apapa based on the call-up. The Presidential Task Team don’t control the call-up, the NPA (Nigerian Ports Authority) controls it. When the call-up says ‘don’t come,’ remain where you are. When the call-up says ‘come,’ you can then come, there is no problem. Also, when they say you should come, but terminal operators have issues and say that they are not ready to receive you, we will still stop you because we can’t keep you on the road.”

Opeifa said that if the trucks had adhered to the transit park created for them, they would not face some of the transportation problems, noting that the Presidential Task Force does not control the transit park and would not know if some people extort truck drivers at the park.

“If you go to Apapa in the morning, you won’t see any truck, it shows that no truck stays overnight on the road,’’´ Opeifa added.

In the same vein, while the Apapa Wharf road was completed since 2018 and now in use, some key access roads are already at advanced stages of completion, but open for public use to ease the traffic situation in Apapa. These include the 1.4km Liverpool road, the 2.9km Creek road; the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway from Creek road to Tin Can Port gate 1; and the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway from Tin Can Port gate 1 to Mile 2.

Explaining reasons for possible transportation challenges in Tin Can axis of the Apapa, Opiefa said that most of the roads in the area are under construction adding that despite that no tanker will spend more than a day to load and come out of Apapa.

He said, “If a container spends more than a day, there must be other problems. So, no tanker driver will tell you he took more than a day to load and come out of Apapa. Currently, no truck goes out of Tin-Can through Mile 2 due to ongoing road construction. All trucks going out of Tin-Can must go through Apapa Wharf.”

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