More than one month after Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo visited the ports in Lagos and ordered a 72-hour joint operation by security operatives to clear the gridlock in and around Apapa, little progress appears to have been made in this regard.
Osinbajo, who paid an unscheduled visit to Apapa at the peak of the gridlock on July 20, had directed relevant government agencies to immediately embark on the decongestion of the Wharf Road and the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway to allow for free flow of traffic.
Less than a week after issuing the directive, the Vice President, accompanied by the Governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode, and the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, on July 26, held a meeting with relevant stakeholders on the traffic management mechanisms at the Western Naval Command, Apapa.
But a visit to the Lagos Port Complex Apapa by our correspondent on Thurssday revealed that several cargoes and containers remained trapped inside the port despite the deployment of over 1,000 security personnel by the Lagos State Police Command and other relevant agencies involved in the ‘Operation Restore Sanity’.
Earlier, when our correspondent visited Ajegunle on Tuesday, it was discovered that most of the container-laden trucks had moved from the Mile 2/Oshodi Expressway and occupied a portion of the narrow residential streets, making movement very difficult.
The situation was made worse by the deep gullies and puddles of muddy water settling in deep pits along the roads, practically causing gridlock on the residential streets.
Ambode had earlier closed two bonded terminals in the area and reminded the owners that Ajegunle is strictly a residential area and that the terminals had no business being there.
As a result of the parking of the trucks along the streets, connecting the Mile 2-Oshodi Expressway from Ajegunle could take an average of two hours, a journey that ordinarily should be covered in less than 10 minutes.
The President, Nigerian Importers Integrity Association, Godwin Onyekachi, described the Vice President’s order as “cosmetic,” arguing that a lasting solution was needed in addressing the real problems that led to the gridlock.
He said, “Deploying security operatives in their large number was an interim measure guaranteed to fail because the major problem has not been addressed by the government yet.
“A major problem is the collapse of the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, which has been neglected for many years by the Federal Government. This road is the major entry and exit points for the ports and other businesses in the Apapa area.
“The situation on the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway forces truckers to use the Apapa-Ijora-Wharf road, which is a very narrow road and has been under construction for more than a year.”
He added, “Traffic on the Apapa-Ijora-Wharf road has been further compounded by the closure of the outbound lane of the Apapa-Ijora Bridge by the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing.
“As we speak, the top layers of the bridge have removed and the job abandoned for more than two months. Consequently, truckers are restricted to the Leventis exit lane to move out of Apapa.”