The Vice-Chairman, Presidential Task team on Apapa gridlock, Kayode Opeifa, has raised the alarm that property owners in waterfront area’s of Apapa are now converting their premises into truck parks for container carrying articulated vehicles.
This is even as he added that when his team confronted the property owners, they said the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) gave them the approval to convert their premises into truck parks.
Speaking during a stakeholders meeting on Apapa gridlock, held in Lagos on Tuesday, Kayode Opeifa lampooned the property owners for converting their premises into truck parks without approval from the Lagos State Government.
According to Opeifa, “Some residents of Apapa have converted their properties to truck parks without any approval from the Lagos State Government. When we approached them, they said they have NPA approval, but I told them it is illegal for them to operate without Lagos State approval.
“If you go to creek road, there are residents that are taking 100 trucks. They brought in 200 containers, truck drivers and their motor boys hanging at the jetties without considering safety of our waterways. We have two properties on creek road now operating barge operations. As far as Lagos State is concerned, if you have any license from anywhere, it is an illegal license because the property was not registered for that purpose.
“The trucks eventually come out by road, so there was nobody accounting for that. We just see that trucks in Lillypond could not approach the port because they are being given access into the port. Water transportation has to be done properly otherwise it will become the next mess inside the port environs.”
Opeifa, who claimed that there is no gridlock in Apapa as presently being portrayed by the media, disclosed that the Lagos State Government has approved the deployment of 200 LASTMA officials to sustain the sanity enjoyed in Apapa towards the last quarter of last year.
He said the mandate of the task force was not to solve the gridlock but to ensure that there are no trucks on the bridge, noting that without an effective truck call up system, it will be difficult to achieve sanity on the port access road.
In his presentation earlier, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) identified the shutdown of Lilypond truck park and corruption as factors fuelling the return of traffic gridlock to Apapa port access road.
Hassan Bello said there is need to put the Lilypond truck pack back into use.
Bello, who was represented by the NSC Director, Consumer Services, Cajetan Agu, said that the Presidential Task Team (PTT) should liaise with the Lagos State government on creation of mobile court to persecute those seeking bribes from truck drivers.
In the words of the NSC Boss, “We should liaise with the Lagos state government to give us mobile court for anyone seeking bribes so that anyone found guilty should be jailed to put an end to the bribery. Bribery is done in the open and none is complying with the system so, we need to enforce compliance.
“Reasons, why truck drivers are involved in malpractices is because there is no efficient system to punish them for wrong acts.”
The Shippers Council’s boss also said that trucks must be compelled to use the designated truck parks and adhere to the call-up system even as he called for efficiency of terminal operators to handle trucks released.
“Some truck owners don’t have garages. We must go back to the designated 48 parks for truck drivers to go for call up.
“Also, the efficiency of terminal operators must be looked into. For instance, if 50 trucks are released to a terminal and they don’t have capacity to handle up to that, there will be problem,” Hassan Bello added.
He also stated that there is need for inter-agency cooperation among different agencies of government at the seaport.