Apapa Traffic: Navy Goes After Truck Drivers

Clears Bridges of Trailers

By Bayo Bernard

Painstaking effort by the Governor of Lagos state, Akinwumi Ambode to address the Apapa traffic gridlock appears to be yielding result. For the first time in many years Nigerians living and working in Apapa and environs are upbeat that the traffic snare will be broken following the decision of the Lagos state government to move all trucks and articulated vehicles away from all the bridges inward Apapa from Mile 2, Costain, Eko Bridge and  from the Bdagry expressway end.

The state government had recently collaborated with the security forces in the country, including the Navy and Nigerian Army to bar the trucks from packing on the bridges leading to the Apapa, the nation’s premier ports and Tin can.

Apapa/Mile 2 highway on bad state
Apapa: Nigeria’s worst port

The first phase of moving the trucks have already started as the magazine has observed. The Flag officer Commanding, Western Command of the Nigerian Navy, Rear Admiral Sylvanus Abbah reiterated on Monday no going back on the order. The directive” to move the trucks away from the bridges remains,” HE stated, adding that” We do not want trucks on Lagos bridges” warning that” we would not stop until” truck owners comply. His warning came following suggestions by some truck owners that they will not comply with the order.

An all-encompassing stakeholders meeting with the state government held two weeks ago had resolved to use the military to dislodge trucks from the bridges . At the well-attended meeting by Truck owners and drivers Association, Shipping companies, representatives of customs and freight forwarding associations, government agencies and others it was resolved that security agencies carry out painstaking effort to clear the bridges within few days.

Most trucks are parked indiscriminately on the bridges by drivers who sometimes have nothing to do in the ports at that particular time. They have simply turned the bridges to parking space, one resident of Apapa, Yusuf Sule told the magazine. For years the trend has persisted while the authorities remained helpless.

Residents that could not bear the problem had relocated while those that are still managing to survive in the area have complained bitterly about the situation. Businesses have also suffered as a result of the traffic confusion. But the latest decision of the state government is not unconnected with lamentation by concerned Nigerians of possible collapse of the bridges due to the weight articulated vehicles. If such happens could lead to huge loss of human life, according to expers.

Recently on a working visit to Apapa, President of Dangote Group, Ali Dangote lamented that the menace was killing business. He disclosed that his company loses billion of naira annually to the problem. Recall that the construction of the company have embarked on the construction of some roads in Apapa to ease the congestion.

Over N4 billion have been earmarked for the project, a partnership between Dagote Group, Nigeria Ports Authority, NPA and Flower Mills Plc. This is aside the palliative work been done by other concerned stakeholders doing business in the area, though all the efforts have somehow failed to address the problem.

Therefore, the decision of the Governor Akinwumi Ambode administration to swing into action this time around by enforcing the no-parking-on-the-bridge directive, stakeholders insist is the first step in the right direction to permanently address the issue.

Already security agencies have started working to ensure compliance. The magazine learnt that the ‘vacate the bridge order’ will be carried out by combine effort of the Nigerian Police, Civil Defense, Army and the Navy. This is happening after the 48 hours window given to the truck owners have expired.

Rear Admiral Abbah disclosed that his men has started “ the enforcement in batches” to prevent a traffic standstill in the state. “if we cover all the bridges at once, there will be standstill in Lagos and we do not want that to happen. He said his men have already moved trucks around Berger and Otto Wharf while” those of Orile are being moved in batches of 10 or 20”.

The next stage is to “go after those ones still on Eko Bridge,” Abbah said.

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