While some challenges are still being sorted out, significant progress is being recorded in the Apapa traffic situation according to an updated report submitted to the Federal Government last week.
According to Mr. Laolu Akande, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity in the Office of the Vice President, the report indicates that critical infrastructure including roads around the Apapa corridor are now at different levels of completion with some already open for public use.
The latest update on efforts to fix the Apapa traffic situation was given at a virtual stakeholders’ meeting earlier this week chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.
It would be recalled that part of the plan to address the problem in Apapa is the idea of fixing some of the roads around the area.
Progress recorded in fixing the road infrastructure relative to the Apapa Traffic situation as disclosed at the meeting includes:
• Apapa Wharf road – Completed since 2018 and already in use.
• 1.4km Liverpool road – Almost completed but open for public use.
• 2.9km Creek road – Almost completed but open for public use.
• Apapa-Oshodi Expressway from Creek road to Tin Can Port gate 1 – Almost completed.
• Apapa-Oshodi Expressway from Tin Can Port gate 1 to Mile 2 – at advanced stage of completion
• Tin Can Island Transit Truck Park – Completed and now in use.
Besides the issue of road constructions, other development includes the adoption of a Call-up system for trucks at the Lagos Port which is at advanced stage and will soon be deployed.
Speaking after listening to presentations by the various stakeholders at the meeting attended by top government officials including the Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Prof. Osinbajo directed all agencies working within and around the Port to work in collaboration with the Lagos State government to intensify efforts aimed at clearing the traffic problems in the area.
At the meeting, while responding to the Vice President’s inquiry about the renovation of the rail line to the Port, Minister of Transport, Mr Rotimi Amaechi who was also at the meeting said the COVID-19 pandemic had altered the pace of work but that work would resume soon on the rail line.
Speaking on the current traffic situation around the area, Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu said it has been exacerbated by the temporary closure of major transit routes like Third Mainland Bridge, Eko Bridge and several other roads.
Earlier while presenting the update, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Presidential Task Team, PTT, Mr Kayode Opeifa said one of the major challenges faced by the team include short demurrage timelines which forces operators to be on the roads to return containers before they start incurring fees.
“We call for the understanding of all stakeholders especially during this period of huge level of construction activities to modernize the Port access roads and infrastructure”.
“The deployed traffic management system by the PTT, in addition to efforts to deploy technology by the NPA and the Shippers Council would be adequate to sustain the gains we have recorded. The era of perenial gridlock is definitely behind us,” he said.
On her part, the Managing Director of NPA, Hajiya Hadiza Usman said the agency would soon deploy the call-up system for trucks, and no truck will be expected on the roads unless called up.
In addition to the deployment of the call-up system, the NPA MD said that the agency, in collaboration with other stakeholders, was looking at other options such as the use of inland waterways/terminals to evacuate cargo.
On the efficiency of cargo inspection at the ports, the Comptroller General of the Nigerian Customs Service, Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd) said three scanners approved by the Federal Government would soon be procured and installed at Apapa Port to improve the service’s efficiency.
He added that plans are underway to have over 300 more scanners installed at other critical entry points of the country when the National Single Trade Window comes into full swing.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN had during an on-the-spot visit to the area in June 2019 restated the Federal Government’s resolve to implement short and long term measures to ensure long lasting solution to the traffic problems in Apapa and its environs.
With the VP at the meeting were also Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State; the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola; the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi; Comptroller General of the Nigerian Customs Service, Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd); Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Hajiya Hadiza Usman; the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Mr Hassan Bello; and the Executive Vice Chairman of the Presidential Task Team, Mr Kayode Opeifa.
Earlier last week the Amalgamation of Container Trucks Owners Association of Nigeria (ACTOAN) and other stakeholders in Apapa were reported in the media observing that the ongoing road constructions in Lagos metropolis and within Apapa environs is responsible for the recent slow pace of movement into Apapa.
According to the media reports, the truck owners, residents and other stakeholders in Apapa also lauded the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo-led Presidential Task Team on restoration of law and order in the area.
They said the timely intervention by the Osinbajo-led team has restored sanity after two days of gridlock caused by the massive road construction and rehabilitation on major access roads as well as the enforcement of law and order in the movement of tankers, trucks and other heavy duty vehicles in Apapa environs.
Speaking on the development in Apapa, the ACTOAN Chairman, Chief Olalaye Thompson, said there was no traffic in Apapa anymore like the gridlock following the intervention of the task team.
Also speaking, a resident, Wahab Jimoh said more private cars now ply Apapa more frequently due to the restoration of law and order on the axis.
According to him, “there was no resurface gridlock at all. No truck sleeps on the road, it has never happened. So where is the gridlock, so we should be talking about the whole Lagos gridlock then? There is more car traffic in Apapa than any other time. Moving truck traffic on one lane while cars are moving freely on the other lane can’t be seen as gridlock.”