In line with the mandate of the Special Traffic Management Enforcement Team constituted by the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, to resolve the incessant gridlock that has plagued Apapa and its environs, the team has continued to engage heavy-duty truck owners, unions and other stakeholders towards eliminating the protracted traffic congestion in the axis.
Speaking at the stakeholders’ meeting held on Thursday at Adeyemi-Bero Auditorium, the Secretariat, Ikeja, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Transportation and Chairman of the Special Traffic Management Team, Mr. Oluwatoyin Fayinka, reiterated that any truck operating outside the call up lists generated by the Nigerian Ports Authority would be impounded, if caught obstructing the flow of traffic on the roads.
He disclosed that several petitions from residents of Apapa, Ijora, Tincan, Sifax and Mile 2 received by the Ministry of Transportation and forwarded to his team, complained of the unruly behaviour of truckers which has prevented other road users from accessing their desired destinations with ease.
Appealing to stakeholders to cooperate with the State Government to remedy the situation, the Special Adviser declared that non-compliance from trailer and truck operators will be met with the full weight of the Law.
He advised the haulage vehicles to utilise the grace period to get their acts together and conform with directives issued out, noting that vehicles in poor condition would be prevented from entering the ports and sanctioned if caught operating within the metropolis.
Fayinka also affirmed that the Nigerian Ports Authority, the Nigeria Police, Federal Road Safety Corps and Lagos State Traffic Management Authority are collaborating with his team to manage traffic into Apapa and prevent the illegal parking of trailers and trucks causing severe damages to road infrastructure and compounding traffic gridlock.
The representative of the Nigerian Ports Authority at the meeting, Mr. Ayodele Durowaye, lauded the stakeholders present for their positive contributions, stressing that the primary responsibility of the NPA is cargo handling, hence the responsibility of keeping trucks at parks and holding bays during the process of port activities is solely that of the operators.
He alluded that trucks parked indiscriminately beneath and on the bridge, as well as highways, were aberrations and unbefitting in the Lagos Smart City Master plan, noting that the State Government has rights to impound any truck causing obstruction and violating the States’ Traffic law as the ports are transit points designed to hold cargoes temporarily.
Durowaye assured that the Agency will submit the routing plan showing the allotted movement for trucks to unveil impediments caused by the indiscriminate stop and search that hamper the efficiency of the call-up roaster and cause delays, recommending that allegations levelled against the Shipping Lines should be addressed with petitions to enable penalties, including Ship Entry Notice Denials and Cancellation of Licenses of the erring shipping line.
The NPA representative stated further that about 7000 trucks have been certified fit for the proposed digitalised call up system, revealing that effective from 27th of February, 2021, trucks must approach the ports from a holding bay or truck parks with a bar code to access the ports.
In his contribution, the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, CP. Mr. Hakeem Odumosu, assured that the Nigerian Police would back up all Lagos State Enforcement Teams and Agencies, adding that touting would be checked to checkmate illegal business activities, while the issue of unnecessary checkpoints on roads to the Ports will be collapsed.
The Lagos Sector Commander, Federal Road Safety Corps, Mr. Olusegun Ogungbemide proposed that Standard Operational Procedures be developed to outline the role of every stakeholder in solving Apapa gridlock, saying that a harmonised strategy on the part of the unions and synergised efforts with terminal operators will aid in tackling the situation holistically.
Also speaking, the General Manager, Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), Engr. Olajide Oduyoye, warned that under no circumstances should any LASTMA Officer be attacked or harmed while discharging their duties, enjoining everyone to report corrupt Officers, with evidence, to the Agency.