APAPA GRIDLOCK: Lagos Govt, NPA talk tough, to impound trucks parking in highways

•Sanwo-Olu Meets Hadiza Bala Usman Ahead of The Launch Of Digital Call-Up System In Ports

•Sanwo-Olu Meets Hadiza Bala Usman Ahead of The Launch Of Digital Call-Up System In Ports

Lagos State Government and the leadership of Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) have recorded a major progress in an effort to proffer lasting solution to the menace of trucks causing gridlocks in Apapa.

From next Saturday on, movement of trucks in and out of the Lagos seaports will now be organised through a transparent electronic call-up system that will be based on first-come-first-serve basis.

With the new system, no container-laden truck is expected to go on Apapa corridor without clearance from the call-up platform. Any truck that flouts the electronic roster and park along Apapa corridor will be impounded by the Taskforce already set up by the Lagos State Government.

The development was disclosed, on Tuesday, when Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu received the NPA Managing Director, Mrs. Hadiza Bala Usman, in audience at the State House, Alausa.

Sanwo-Olu expressed optimism on the transparent electronic call-up system, saying the move was the beginning of the end of Apapa gridlock. He said the call-up platform would be complemented with virtual dashboards that will be placed in strategic locations around the seaports, where all stakeholders will monitor scheduling of container movement.

The Governor praised NPA for the innovative approach towards tackling the truck menace around ports, pledging that the State Government would sustain the effort with strict enforcement of traffic regulations along the Apapa corridor.

He said: “This is the beginning of a better journey time for our citizens within the Apapa seaports and environ. This electronic system has limited interface with security operatives and unions, which usually cause the gridlock problem. It will be a simple case of possessing electronic clearance. If you don’t have it, you don’t have any reason to be around the seaports.

“In enforcing the new regulations, we are deploying more than enough towing vehicles to impound erring trucks. The huge amount to be paid as fine for flouting the call-up system will be a deterrent for drivers not to repeat it. The stakeholders need to understand we are serious about ridding Apapa of the menace that has brought pains to our citizens living and doing businesses along the corridor.”

Sanwo-Olu said the State Government would be deploying 500 officers of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) to work collaboratively with NPA and enforce the new call-up regulation, directing the State’s agency not to spare any effort in achieving free flow of traffic in Apapa.

The Governor said the State was working out a collaboration between the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Vehicle Inspection Service (VIS) and NPA to ascertain the road worthiness of trucks before leaving their stations to the seaports. This, he said, is to check truck accidents on the highways.

Sanwo-Olu said there would be regular review of the call-up system for sustenance of the progress and optimised performance.

He said: “We can bring back a better living experience for Apapa residents through the new system and have better traffic movement on routes in the area. Lagos Government is fully committed to ensuring all points we have agreed on will be implemented and get all relevant support.”

Ms. Bala Usman said the visit to the State House was to brief the Governor on the status of the electronic call-up platform before it would be fully launched. She said the development underscored NPA’s commitment towards ending the menace of trucks around the seaports.

She said part of the advantages of the new system was the creation of eight approved parks where all trucks must first be stationed before being electronically called into the seaports.

The NPA boss said the electronic system had addressed the excuses usually given by truck drivers for parking their vehicles on the highways, stressing that any truck found around the ports without electronic clearance would be impounded.

She said: “The deadline for the commencement of the electronic call-up system is February 27, 2021 and we are here to strengthen collaboration with the Lagos State Government on implementation and compliance as we commence the process. The new system will be done in collaboration with the State. We have worked seamlessly to ensure Apapa is rid of the menace of trucks.

“All truck owners and stakeholders have been briefed about the new development over the past months. Any truck found in Apapa corridor without call-up clearance will be impounded and Lagos Government will provide the platform with which any fine payment will be collected.”

Ms Bala Usman said the era of individuals depositing empty containers in the seaports was over. She said empty containers must now be deposited with the shipping companies, which are expected to keep the containers in their holding bays at no cost to individuals who own the shipment.

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The Commander, U.S. Africa Command, U General Stephen Townsend, wrapped up a three-day West African visit February 22-25, 2021, with a stopover in Nigeria to meet with the nation’s leaders and further the long-standing partnership and security cooperation between the two countries.

A press statement by the Embassy on Friday, said: “During the visit, Townsend met with the Nigerian President’s Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari, and National Security Adviser, Babagan Monguno, to discuss regional security issues and to express the command’s gratitude for the assistance provided during a hostage rescue operation last year.

“When we asked for their help, the Nigerian government answered the call. Our hostage recovery mission in October would have been impossible without their support.

“They quickly provided assistance that helped the U.S. military to save an American life. That is a strong example of our partnership with Nigeria.”

Townsend also met with senior military officials, including the Minister of Defence, Bashir Salihi Magash, and the Chief of Defence Staff, General Leo Irabor, to talk about on-going cooperation in the region and greater maritime security and threat mitigation.

Nigeria is a key partner in countering violent extremist organizations throughout the Lake Chad Basin.

Townsend said furthermore: “The bilateral relationship between Nigeria and the U.S. is built on several pillars including security cooperation.

“U.S. Africa Command will do our part to advance the security cooperation pillar, so that Nigerians can enjoy the more secure future they all deserve.”

As close partners, the U.S. and Nigeria have worked at ensuring the collaborative relationship continues to grow to include a commitment to interoperability. Nigeria purchased 12 A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft, which will be delivered later this year.

“Nigeria’s purchase of A-29 Super Tucano aircraft is another example of their commitment to interoperability and security in the region,” he added. “Our economic relationship with Nigeria is already strong, and we look forward to the continued strengthening of security relationships. Nigeria’s leaders understand the importance of a collaborative approach to ensuring stability in West Africa and partnering on areas of mutual interest.”

The Commander also met with the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard.

Leonard said: “General Townsend’s visit to Nigeria demonstrates the strategic importance the United States places on our bilateral relationship with Nigeria.

“Our security cooperation partnership with Nigeria’s military will strengthen the country’s capabilities to secure land and sea borders, enhance overall security, and combat terrorism in the North East.”

As part of the visit, Townsend participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Nigeria Military National Cemetery to honour those who have given their lives in the service of their nation.

During the visit, the delegation expressed their condolences for the seven service men killed in the crash of a Nigerian Air Force aircraft in Abuja.