By; RAYMOND TEDUNJAYE, Lagos
The Lagos State Government on Thursday set up a joint operation involving security agencies and stakeholders in the maritime sector to remove all containerized trucks and tankers parked along the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway commencing from Friday.
Tagged ‘Operation Restore Sanity On Lagos Roads,’ the exercise will be carried out from early hours of Friday to Monday by 1000 policemen, 500 officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), 100 officers of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), 120 officers of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), and 250 personnel of the Nigerian Military including Army, Air Force and the Navy.
Apart from providing the equipment to be used for the operation, the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) will also deploy 20 officials, while the relevant unions within the maritime sector such as Amalgamation of Container Truck Owners Association, Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), National Association of Transport Operators (NATO), Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO), among others will provide hundreds of their members to serve as Task Force to work with security agencies.
Addressing a press briefing after an emergency meeting on the chaos in Apapa axis as a result of the gridlock, the State’s Commissioner of Police, CP Imohimi Edgal said the decision to set up the operation became imperative owing to the need to restore sanity and prevent complete breakdown of law and order.
He said though the issues which gave rise to the sorry state of affairs on the federal roads and bridges linking the ports ranges from ports operational problems, activities of tank farms and shipping lines who don’t have holding bays in clear contravention to the law, and diversion as a result of ongoing construction, among others, the State Government nonetheless would not fold it arms and allow the sufferings of the people to continue, a development he said necessitated the operation.
He said it was gratifying that all stakeholders unanimously agreed that the operation should commence with immediate effect, while the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and other relevant agencies work to fashion out permanent solution to the issues within the Ports which gave rise to the gridlock.
According to the CP, “Everybody is aware of the madness going on along the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway that has been completely blocked by trailers and tankers. The same problem we have on our bridges in Western Avenue, Iganmu and Apapa axis.
“However, it would be irresponsible of us to continue to watch and allow Lagosians go through these period of untold hardship without coming up with strong palliative and security measures and strong joint effort to at least ease the traffic problem and allow for free flow of traffic, while agencies that are responsible for these problems sit together like I hear they are doing currently and fashion out permanent solutions to the problems.
“We have held series of meetings between yesterday and today and we have come up immediately with a resolve to immediately start ‘Operation Restore Sanity On Lagos Roads’. This operation which kicks off by early hours of Friday is intended to move trucks and containers from our roads, highways and bridges to designated locations.
“Thereafter, inventory will be made. The shipping companies themselves will be called to send their representatives to take inventory of these containers and at least have records that the containers have been taken to the designated locations so that they can continue their activities from there,” Edgal said.
He commended motorists and Lagos residents especially those staying in the Apapa axis for their patience and understanding so far, just as he assured that concerted efforts would be made to free the road between Friday and Monday, while another level of engagement would commence with the NPA, tank farm owners, shipping companies, Shippers Council and other stakeholders to forestall a repeat of the gridlock.
He also urged Maritime Union Workers, in the interest of the nation, to shelve their planned strike action and other moves they have so far embarked on which led to the gridlock, while also appealing to Lagos residents to bear with government especially in the event of diversions to ensure removal of the parked trucks and containers.
Also speaking, LASTMA’s General Manager, Mr Olawale Musa assured residents that normalcy and order would soon be restored, saying that the men of the agency had fully been mobilized.
“Just to tell Lagosians that as a government, we are very responsive and for a situation that is beyond our control and not our doing, we are nonetheless making all efforts to ease the problems of Lagosians.
“We are on ground and we are going to ensure that sanity is restored on our roads. If the people are suffering, we are also suffering because for me to get to Apapa is a big problem to access the road but with all stakeholders coming together to solve these problems, we assure Lagosians that very soon we are going to restore order,” Musa said.