Following the intractable gridlock along the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, an access route to Apapa port and its environs, the newly constituted Lagos State Traffic Management Enforcement Team, has announced its readiness to commence impoundment of any heavy-duty vehicles parked indiscriminately along the axis.
Meanwhile, members of various unions at the ports have called on the authority to probe the activities of Shippers Council of Nigeria and a terminal operator, APMT, over the Apapa gridlock.
Special Adviser to the Governor on Transportation, Oluwatoyin Fayinka, who is also the Chairman of the traffic team, announced intention to commence enforcement during a stakeholders’ meeting with representatives of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Petroleum Tanker Drivers Association (PTDA) and truck owners unions, held on Wednesday February 17, 2021, at Alausa, Ikeja.
Also present at the stakeholders’ meeting include other members of the team, the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Central Business Districts, Sola Giwa; Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Political Security Intelligence, Ayodeji Laurent; Lagos State Commissioner of Police, CP. Hakeem Odumosu and General Manager, Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA, Engr. Olajide Oduyoye.
Fayinka, who reiterated that henceforth, any truck outside the call-up lists generated by the Nigerian Ports Authority would be impounded if caught obstructing the flow of traffic on the roads, stressed that the measure is In line with the mandates given to the enforcement team by Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu to resolve the gridlock that has continued to plague Apapa and its environs.
He disclosed that petitions from residents of Apapa, Ijora, Tincan, Sifax and Mile 2 received by the Ministry of Transportation, has been forwarded to his team against truckers unruly behaviour on the road which has prevented other road users from accessing their desired destinations with ease, appealing further to Stakeholders to cooperate with the state government in removing the congestion and remedy the situation.
Fayinka declared that non-compliance from trailer and truck operators will meet the full weight of the law, and therefore, urged stakeholders and those concerned to utilize the grace period to get their act together and conform to directives issued out in their own interest.
He directed that vehicles in poor conditions should be prevented from entering the ports and will be sanctioned if caught operating within the metropolis.
Fayinka also affirmed that the NPA, the Nigeria Police, Federal Road Safety Corps and Lagos State Traffic Management Authority is working with his team closely with the information provided to manage traffic into Apapa and prevent the loitering of heavy-duty vehicles and trucks along the road which often responsible for the damage to road infrastructure, leading to gridlock.
“We will continue to engage you, truck unions and other stakeholders towards eliminating the traffic congestion on that corridor and in the state at large,” he stated.
Also, Odumosu, assured that the Nigerian Police would back up enforcement teams and agencies, adding that touts activities would be checked and the issue of the unnecessary checkpoint at the ports axis would also be collapsed in order to checkmate sharp practices and other illegal business activities.
In the Affirmative, the Lagos Sector Commander, Federal Road Safety Corps, Olusegun Ogungbemide proposed that Standard Operational Procedures be developed to outline the role of every stakeholder in solving Apapa gridlock, adding that a harmonized strategy on the part of the unions and synergized efforts with terminal operators would aid in tackling the situation holistically.
Corroborating commissioner’s words, LASTMA boss, Odutoye, warned that under no circumstances should any LASTMA Officer be attacked or harmed while discharging their duties, he urged that corrupt officers should be reported with evidence.
The representative of the NPA, Ayodele Durowaye while commending stakeholders for their frank talk on Apapa situation, declared that the primary responsibility of NPaA was cargo handling, stressing that the responsibility of keeping trucks at truck parks and holding bays during the process of port activities was solely that of the operators.
While condemning the act of parking of trucks indiscriminately under and on the bridge as well as highways, he described it as an aberration and unbefitting in the Lagos Smart City Master plan.
Durowaye stated further that the state government was within her rights to impound any truck causing obstruction and violating the states’ traffic law as the ports were transit points that have been designed to cater for cargos temporarily.
He assured that NPA would submit the routing plan showing the allotted movement for trucks to shed more light on the impediments caused by the indiscriminate stop and search that tamper with the call-up roaster and causing the delay, recommending that allegations levelled against the Shipping lines, should be addressed with petitions which will enable penalties, including ship entry notice denials and cancellation of licenses of the shipping line to be exerted.
In addition, Durowaye disclosed that about 7000 trucks have been certified fit for the proposed digitalized call up system.
He warned that on and after February 27, 2021, trucks must approach the ports from a holding bay or truck park with a bar code to access the ports.
Durowaye stressed that all holding bays will be required to install Close Circuit Television, CCTV cameras with 24 hours coverage, Access Control and 24 hours power supply to ensure adequate monitoring of the activities and movement of articulated trucks, trailers and tankers.
In response to the address by the various government representatives in the sector, union representatives of Council of Maritime Transport Unions and Association, COMTUA, Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners, NARTO, Association of Maritime Truck Owners, AMATO, Logistic Practitioners Association of Nigeria, LPAN, and National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwards, NAGAFF, appealed to government to listen to them as stakeholders, stating that members of their Unions must regularly be carried along in further deliberations and processes.
They also urged the enforcement team to take deep steps and acquire necessary authorization to probe the shipper’s council, APMT, the law enforcement checkpoints and port operations, alleging that “the unnecessary queues to the ports that extend for weeks are being fuelled by the shipper’s council, APMT, groups.”
Speaking on the occasion, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transportation, Mr. Kamar Olowoshago appreciated the stakeholders for their participation and contributions to the cause at hand, assuring that the deliberations reached would be considered for the benefit of all stakeholders in the sector.