Apapa gridlock: Truck drivers dare FG 72 hour’s directive

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By Seun Ibiyemi

Barely after 48 hours of the Presidential Order issued to truck drivers to vacate ports access roads within 72 hours, investigation by Nigerian NewsDirect on Thursday revealed that drivers and owners are yet remove their trucks from the access road.

The Federal Government gave truck and tanker drivers who parked their vehicles on all access roads and bridges to the Apapa ports and environs in Lagos State 72 hours to remove them.

The Federal Government gave directive on Wednesday to a task force constituted to clear the Apapa gridlock began work.

The task force, which is headed by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari after the April 25 emergency meeting summoned to find permanent solution to the gridlock.

In a swift reaction, the vice chairman of National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), Alhaji Abdullahi Inuwa said that agreement has been reach that all the trucks should leave the road between 72 hours.

“As a matter of fact, we have identify about 53 garages to compliment the effort of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) by converting Lilly Pond  to Transit Park.

“Tomorrow we are move round with public address system to make sure that all our members’ moves to their various garages expect those who are approaching the port.

“We can’t ask them to leave because they are going inside the port but the other ones are to vacate the roads and am sure the drivers too will be happy to be in their garages, we in fully in support of the order.

A statement issued on Wednesday and signed by Osinbajo’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr Laolu Akande, said the task force had two weeks, beginning from Wednesday (yesterday), to complete the assignment.

“A Presidential directive has been issued for the immediate clearing of Apapa gridlock and the restoration of law and order to Apapa and its environs within two weeks.

“The directive mandates the immediate removal of all trucks from bridges and roads within Apapa and all adjoining streets leading into the Apapa area.

“To facilitate this important assignment, operators of trucks and tankers have also been directed to vacate the port access roads within the next 72 hours.

“This directive follows an emergency meeting convened by President Muhammadu Buhari and chaired by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo on April 25, 2019. The meeting proffered a lasting solution to the gridlock around the Lagos ports, as the traffic congestion has continued to restrict all operations and livelihood in the area.

“At the meeting were key heads and representatives of relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the government, including the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola; Inspector-General of Police, Mr Mohammed Adamu; representative of the Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral B.E.E. Ibe-Enwo; Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Transportation, Dr Salaam Olufemi; and the Executive Director, Marine and Operations, Nigerian Ports Authority, Dr Sokonte Davies.

“Consequently, a Presidential task force, chaired by Vice-President Osinbajo was established to restore law and order to the area within two weeks. The task force, which will report directly to the President according to the terms of reference  will ensure the development of an efficient and effective management plan for the entire port area traffic, including the cargo, fuel distribution and business district traffic; enforcing the permanent removal of all stationary trucks on the highway, and the development of an effective manual truck call-up system, pending the introduction of the electronic truck call-up system.

The list includes the implementation of a workable Empty Container Return and Export Container Truck Handling Policy, among other”

Members of the task force, according to the Presidency, are Mr Kayode Opeifa (a former Commissioner of Transport in Lagos State) as the executive vice-chairman; a representative of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council; the NPA; and the Nigerian Shippers’ Council.

Also on the list, we have a special unit of the Nigeria Police Force led by a Commissioner of Police; representatives of the transport union; the Lagos State Government through the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA); and other relevant MDAs.

The statement added, “The Nigerian Navy and all other military formations have also been mandated to withdraw from traffic management duties in the Apapa area, while military and paramilitary checkpoints in front of the ports and environs are to be dismantled.

“In addition, LASTMA has been authorised to move into Apapa as the lead traffic management agency, while the NPA is to commence the immediate use of the Lilypond Terminal and Trailer Park A as a truck transit park.

“The directive further mandates compliance by all security personnel and MDAs, while heads of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Nigeria Customs Service, Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, and all other security operatives are to ensure their officers’ adherence to the new directives.”

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