The traffic situation along Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, yesterday, returned to the old order of standstill as truck drivers parked indiscriminately on the road subjecting motorists and other road users to untold hardship.
The Electronic-call up system introduced by the management of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, to reorder movement of trucks on first come first served seemed to have collapsed as truck drivers ignored all earlier rules and regulations on traffic movement.
The long queue of articulated vehicles stretched as far as Second Rainbow Bus Stop, along Apapa-Oshodi Expressway to Oto Wharf, inward Tin-can Island Port.
Men of the state traffic committee and
Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA, practically abandoned their duty posts as they were not seen at trouble spots.
Miscreants, who had earlier disappeared from the road, returned to their nefarious activities collecting bribes from articulated drivers.
The cudgel wielding miscreants had a field day collecting money from truckers in broad daylight.
Some of the truck drivers who spoke to Vanguard blamed the development on extortion by Lagos state police and LASTMA.
Motorists have heaved a sigh of relief on the axis a few weeks ago but due to extortion and activities by the security personnel, LASTMA and officials of the traffic committee, gridlock has returned to the area.
The state traffic management committee was set up by Governor Bababjide Sanwo-Olu to restore sanity to the persistent gridlock which had defied all solutions applied previously in Apapa and environs.
As of press time the chairman of the traffic committee, Mr Oluwatoyin Fayinka, who is also the Special Adviser to the Governor on Transportation, did not respond to several calls and messages sent to him.
Recall that Fayinka had earlier absolved his men of any complicity in the alleged extortion, pointing accusing fingers at regular state police from the division around the axis.
However, as part of measures to curb the excesses, NPA had sought the support and cooperation of Assistant Inspector General of Police, AIG of the Nigeria Police in charge of Maritime as well as the Nigerian Navy and Federal Road Safety Corps FRSC on the need to clear all encumbrance and bottlenecks that impede the free flow of traffic on all port corridors with a view to ensuring efficient and effective handling of cargo in and out of the nation’s seaports.
The NPA acting Managing Director, Mohammed Bello Koko, made the appeal during a meeting between the AIG Maritime, AIG Amadi John Ogbonnaya, officials of Lagos State Government Commander of the NNS Beecroft, Commodore Bashiru Mohammed, ably represented by Lt Commander A.S Manga and Sector Commander of the FRSC, Matthew Cyril Zango, among others, and government agencies in the maritime industry.
Bello Koko also sought the support of the AIG in helping to address the persistent complaints by stakeholders over extortion, illegal mounting of roadblocks by uniform personnel from the security agencies, associations and unions, all of who operate along the seaport corridors comprising also Tin Can-Coconut, Mile 2, Orile, around the SIFAX Terminal on Ijora-Olopa as well as Police Area B, Wharf, and Creek Roads, among others.
He added that efforts were being intensified to dismantle all illegal checkpoints with a call to truck drivers to resist extortion.
“I wish to use this opportunity to thank the Lagos State Government, the FRSC and the PAPC of the Lagos State Police Command for their support and collaboration with the NPA on the enforcement of the Electronic Call-Up System, called ‘Eto’ and the Clearance Operation.
“The authority would like the AIG to use his good office to assist in the following areas of interest or concern; strengthening the existing collaboration between the Lagos State Police Command and the PAPC, assist in the challenge of persistent complaints by stakeholders of extortion and erecting illegal roadblocks by uniformed security operatives from government security agencies, unions, and associations on Port corridors.
“Other issues requiring the AIG’s urgent attention include assisting in follow-ups with the Force Headquarters, Abuja for additional maritime Police personnel/gunnery to enable the authority to commission its newly acquired patrol boats,” Bello Koko said.