The Presidential Task Force on Apapa Gridlock, Wednesday said it would on Monday next week commence the impounding of errant and idle articulated vehicles on Lagos bridges and roads.
The resolution was made wednesday at the meeting of all stakeholders in Apapa gridlock, which held at the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) BEECROFT conference room, in Lagos. The taskforce Chairman, Commodore Okon Eyo, who made this disclosure at the stakeholders meeting, said the punitive measure only applies to non-compliant drivers of articulated vehicles- either tanker and truck drivers.
Eyo, who is also the Commander NNS Beecroft, said the enforcement took this long because the holding bays to accommodate the trucks and other modalities needed to be put in place.
The stakeholders meeting was a fallout of the previous meeting held with the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo; Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode and other critical stakeholders in the efforts at decongesting Apapa gridlock.
Some of the proposed measures to effectively decongest the roads were for empty containers heading to the ports without any business there to desist, while export containers/sided trucks and flat beds are left inbound to the ports.
Others include coordinating large haulage companies or anyone wishing to move 10 trucks or more in one day, monitoring the operation of holding bays, parking instructions and management of broken down vehicles, as well as stopping non-ports bound traffic like tankers and trucks going to private premises.
The stakeholders meeting also addressed the issue of complaints of extortion, brutalism, preferential treatment and ineffectiveness of the applied strategies by the security taskforce. They also addressed the challenge of poor road network, recalcitrant drivers, intimidating and threatening posture of groups and unions, sometimes even to the extent of blackmail, as well as transporters’ subtle and overt inducement of traffic personnel and uncooperative attitude of terminal operators and shipping agencies.
Other challenges include ineffective NPA call-up system, unprofessional conduct of the taskforce personnel, continued use of the bridges as parks, non-operationalisation of the holding bays, use of dilapidated and rickety vehicles and losgistics shortfall for the taskforce including manning shortage.
In an interview with journalists afterwards Eyo said, “Before now, we have had series of meetings on the gridlock but now, we are going to return all empty containers on the road to the holding bays.
“Articulated vehicles henceforth are no longer allowed to be on the roads and bridges but at the holding bays and from there, they would be programmed between the agencies, terminal operators and NPA management.
“These agencies will then generate call cards for the articulated vehicles. The call cards is what the security agencies will be checking on the roads.
When we brought up the idea a month ago, the operators were not ready so we gave them time to put the required infrastructure for holding bays in place. Right now, we are very serious and they do not have a choice than to comply.”
Also speaking, the Chairman, Ajeromi Local Government Area, Ayoola Fatai, lamented that lots of people were benefiting from the chaos, which he said explains the lingering situation.
He said: “A lot of people are benefiting from the situation and that is why the solution is being delayed up to this moment.
“My take on this is that it has made the business in my local government paralysed. We have about 1.6million people resident in Ajegunle who cannot go out of their houses talk more of going to their businesses.
“People are dying everyday because of these containers and trucks. We need to be realistic in this approach. I have written a letter to the commander informing him of our resolution in our community not to allow these trucks to pass through our community anymore.
“Already, 198 culverts have been damaged, about 14 streets have being destroyed because of these containers and the the government is not coming to our aid.” Also, the Chairman, Apapa Local Government, Elijah Owolabi, harped on the dangers the gridlock portends on the health of residents.
He said: “All these trucks that want to carry out major business in Apapa should maintain one lane and allow the other lane to be useful for the commercial vehicles and other private vehicles to come in and execute their own businesses.”
On the issue of articulated vehicles parking in bridges he said they are going to engage robustly on this as the life span of those bridges have expired.
He said: “The lifespan of those bridges have expired. The maximum lifespan of a bridge is 40years and we have exceeded that.”
On the proposed relocation of tank farms in Apapa and environs he said: “They are due processes to be followed and that one is not under my own control.
“Our own is to suggest. What we need to to however is to go into all the tankfarms and ensure that they all have adequate and fully operational safety devices and not obsolete equipment,” he added.