THE Presidential Task Force on Apapa gridlock headed by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo on Sunday forcibly towed away remnants of non-compliant articulated vehicles parked on Lagos ports access roads to various centres of the Lagos State Transport Management Agency (LASTMA) following their refusal to vacate the roads despite a 72hours order by President Mohammadu Buhari that they all vacate the roads leading to the ports. This is even as the LASTMA lost a 33 years old officer by the name Mrs Arogundade Remilekun Folashade to the Apapa gridlock on Saturday evening due to reckless driving by one of the truck drivers in Area B area of Apapa.
When Tribune Online visited the ports on Sunday, there was no articulated vehicle on the Ijora/Olopa bridge, which used to witness a beehive of trucks pushing to enter into the ports through the Wharf road and Marine road.
The same situation was evident on the Eko Bridge and Apapa-Oshodi express road. Many of the trucks had been cleared off the Lagos ports access roads by the Task Force through the aid of security operatives.
However, as at the time of filing in this report, there were still some trucks trapped at the Coconut/Tin-Can ports axis of the Apapa-Oshodi express road due to the state of the roads which had entirely broken down.
Further findings also revealed that efforts to rid the ports access roads off trucks came at a price as a LASTMA officer, 33 years old Mrs Arogundade Remilekun Folashade was knocked down by a trailer that was trying to reverse along the Area B axis of the Wharf road around 4:30 pm on Saturday when the Task Force team embarked on forceful clearance of the articulated vehicles off the roads.
The driver of the DAF white truck with Borno State registration number XB220MAG was reversing without looking at his back and ran into Mrs Arogundade who was busy directing traffic at the Ijora bridge end of Area B.
According to the LASTMA Spokesman, Mr Marmood Hassan, “The tragic incident happened at Area B in Apapa around 4:30 pm on Saturday. She was on duty creating corridors for vehicles to move out of Apapa in line with the Presidential directive to rid the ports access roads off articulated vehicles.
“While she was doing that, a trailer reversed without the driver looking back, thereby rolling over Mrs Arogundade on the concrete floor. She was immediately rushed to the Apapa General Hospital where she was confirmed Brought In Dead (BID).
“We later took her body to the General Hospital mortuary in Lagos Island. She left behind a two years old baby girl and her husband. The driver of the trailer escaped while the trailer itself has been apprehended at the Area B Police Command in Apapa.”
On the enforcement of the Presidential directive on articulated vehicles, the LASTMA Spokesman explained that “Many trucks have been towed to various centres of the agency. We started on Saturday evening.
“We arrested many of them because they refused to take their vehicles off the road. Those arrested will be charged to court. The exercise is still ongoing as I speak.”
Responding to the arrest of some of his members by the Task Force, Chairman of the Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO), Chief Remi Ogungbemi explained that all truck operators were fully briefed by the association to vacate the roads before 6 pm on Saturday.
In his words, “It is expected that out of every group, you will always have the stubborn ones. We fully briefed our members yesterday about the Presidential order. Those that were arrested went against the directive of the association.”
It was also gathered that all articulated vehicles wishing to access the ports are to forthwith do that through accredited temporary Truck Parks for Port access via Lilypond Terminal. All trucks are to access the Port via manual NPA Call-up system as per the agency’s Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on Port Truck Clearance Procedures.