By Benjamin Omoike
Sanity will soon return to Apapa, the nation’s port city, as all road constructions and network leading to the axis, will be completed by October, Lagos Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has assured.
The disturbing gridlock created along the Apapa corridor in the state by heavy-duty trucks clogging the major highways may soon fade away, if the actions being taken by the Governor fully materialise.
Governor Sanwo-Olu on Sunday, set out on a tour of projects and infrastructure being developed on the Apapa corridor to ease traffic congestion in the area, where he said the traffic being experienced in the axis will be cleared once the projects are completed.
Sanwo-Olu spoke with reporters after the tour. He visited the Costain bridge, Alaka bridge, Ijora bridge, Marine bridge, Liverpool, Lilipond, Mile 2, etc.
He stressed that the Port Authority is building another port in Lekki, in collaboration with Lagos State Government, which will be ready in two years, to ease the pressure in Apapa, adding that his government is also in discussion with stakeholders and some private owners to create proper holding bay and with the call system, get trucks out of the way and free the roads for easy movement.
He assured that his government, will in a methodical order, develop the whole of Apapa, to make it more attractive than it was.
“We are working with various stakeholders and we need to sit together to understand what their challenges are and how best to address the challenges.
“As a government, we have a commitment and a sense of responsibility to our people and we must bring about an operation in efficiency system, where we do not continue to experience this permanent gridlock that is typical of Apapa and also to be able to regenerate the improvement of the roads and bring proper life back to Apapa,” Sanwo-Olu said.
A poser raised by the Governor on why container-laden trucks usually disregard the State’s traffic laws and park on roads generated heated arguments among terminal operators, Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) and Maritime Transport Unions and Associations (COMTUA).
In the ensuing blame game, Sanwo-Olu expressed disapproval of the truck drivers’ action and the failure of the NPA to enforce extant regulations preventing trucks not yet approved for loading, to park indiscriminately on the highways.
The Governor stressed the need to overhaul the terminal system at the ports, noting that there was no reason for the trucks to park on the highways if their dedicated terminals were operational.
He disclosed that the State Government had made a request to the Federal Government to prevail on the concessionaire that will be operating the 700-truck capacity Lilypond Terminal at Apapa, to open the facility for use without further delay.
Sanwo-Olu revealed that the State Government had donated additional 30 hectares of land in Ijora area as part of the solutions initiated to address the problem, noting that the land would expand the holding capacity of the Lilypond terminal.
He said: “Today, I have taken time to personally inspect some projects being developed both by the Federal and State governments to improve traffic around Constain, Iganmu, Apapa and Mile areas. The projects are initiated specifically to address the chaos created mainly by indiscriminate parking of trailers along the routes. Already, there is an ongoing rehabilitation work on Marine Bridge, where a stretch has completely been scarified.
“There is also a Lilypond Terminal, a major holding bay for heavy-duty trucks, which has not been operated after it was transferred to a concessionaire. We are aware that the concessionaire is meant to complete an agreement with NPA on the transfer of the facility. But, while this is being done, the Lagos Government has donated 30 hectares of land in Ijora to raise the capacity of the Lilypond Terminal.
“These steps will be part of the solution of taking the trucks off the Apapa highways. When the rehabilitation work on Marine Bridge is completed in another four months, there will be improvement in journey time towards Apapa. We will also be having meeting with various stakeholders operating at the port, including the truck owners. The system needs a total overhaul. We need to agree and formalise the matrix of the trucks’ movement in and out of the port.”
The Governor also decried the failure of the truck drivers to make use of over 30 holding bays around the port area, including the 320-capacity Tin Can Transit Park.
He pointed out that the gridlock created by the indiscriminate parking of trailers had impacted negatively on the businesses environment on the axis, stressing that the menace had endangered the lives of people living on the corridor.
Sanwo-Olu observed that the volume of maritime business being carried out in Apapa and Tin-Can Island Ports had outgrown their capacities. He said the State Government had started building another port in Lekki in collaboration with the NPA to serve as alternative and ease the pressure on the two ports in Apapa.
The Governor admitted the Apapa needed a complete regeneration. The government, he said, has responded to the challenge with the re-construction work currently going on in the area.
He moved to inspect a failed section of Mile 2 Interchange along Lagos-Badagry Expressway, where the State Government cleared 70 trucks of waste materials from the road drainage.
Sanwo-Olu promised that repair work would commence on Monday, but appealed to residents to desist from clogging the drainage with waste.