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Pres Buhari Expresses Concern Over Apapa Grid-Lock

President Buhari had two months ago given an order that the Apapa gridlock which has become a nightmare be immediately cleared. Also on May 22, this year, the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, issued an order directing a special task team to, within two weeks, clear the gridlock that had made Apapa ports and its environs difficult to access. The directive according to a statement by his spokesman, Laolu Akande, was after a meeting the Vice-President earlier had with relevant stakeholders on April 25, this year.

However, more than four weeks after the directive was issued,the gridlock still persisted, prompting the Presidency to extend the directive by another two weeks. But speaking while receiving members of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, President Buhari lamented the development, observing that the situation remains a challenge. He said the Federal Government was working with Lagos State Government to end the menace.

According to him, “I must admit the Apapa gridlock still remains a challenge. It saddens me that businesses have had to suffer as a result of this. We are doing our very best working with the Lagos State Government to bring an end to this issue.” President Buhari assured of the Federal Government’s continuous support to the private sector, stressing that in the last four years, the government had invested heavily in infrastructure and also supported banks to provide loans to traders. He also said the government signed executive orders to support local content and had focused on ease of doing business with a view to aiding investments.

Meanwhile, the unending gridlock on the busy expressway has degenerated into an unbearable situation, with motorists remaining in a standstill position for the better part of yesterday. The situation which has evidently overwhelmed the Presidential Task Team led by Mr Kayode Opeifa, with CP Hakeem Odumosu leading the enforcement, saw motorists abandoning their vehicles and trekking  right from Jakande bus-stop, to as far as Sunrise Bus Stop.

Chauffeur-driven motorists also do same. This is because the only accessible service lane had been blocked by trucks. Commercial motorcycles popularly called okada, which turned out to be the only means of movement along the route were also trapped. In a bid to make quick turn over, commercial motorcyclists, make use of the available pedestrian pavement, thereby worsening the matter for the already exhausted pedestrians, who were forced to wait at one end for the line of motorcycles to pass.

A pedestrian’s attempt to break the chain of motorcycle movement having waited for a while, caused an accident at Otto Wolff, inward Apapa, as one of the oncoming motorcyclists lost balance and fell, in an attempt to avoid hitting the pedestrian.  This caused an altercation that would have degenerated into an ethnic fight, but for the timely intervention of passers-by.

Some aggrieved truck drivers blamed members of the task team as the cause of the worsening traffic situation. One of them, Segun Timileyin, said: “Task team is the cause of this situation. Before this new task team came up, the queue was moving. But since this set assumed duty, they would collect money from several trucks at once, and when it is time to release them, they allow them to come out at the same time. “That is not to say that the previous task force was not collecting money from us. But what they did was to coordinate us well by giving us cards with number.

Thereafter, they would allow us to come batch by batch. But in this case, there is no coordination. “At times, some drivers would not get access into the ports or tank farms, the same day they paid. By the next day, the number of trucks and tankers would have accumulated, and before you know it, everyone would be rushing to take his turn in front. “It is even worse as from 6pm because these drivers would park right on the walkway, thereby depriving other road users’ access. At this point, there is nothing you would tell them to pacify them to leave that place because money had been collected from them. Yes, I am also a driver and same thing applies to me”, he said.

Some truck drivers also called for the need for the task team to be scrapped. One of them, Adamu Hassan, who claimed to have been at a spot at Second Rainbow for over a week, said: “The Task Team should be scrapped for all I care. I have been at a spot for over one week without any movement because the owner of the truck did not give me money to pay the task team officials, whereas, those behind have long left because they did the needful. “It was this same task force that made the soldiers to be driven away from here, so as to have time to milk us dry. Unfortunately, they do not have the magic wand to solve the problem. So, the task force should also be scrapped.”

At times, some drivers would not get access into the port or tank farms, same day they paid. By the next day, the number of trucks and tanks would have accumulated. Before you know it, everyone would be rushing to take his turn in front. It is even worse as from 6pm because these drivers would pack right on the walkway , thereby depriving other road users access. At this point, there is nothing you would tell them to pacify them to leave that place because money had been collected from them. Yes, I am also a driver and same thing applies to me”. 

Photo Credit: 
newtelegraphonline.com

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