Lagos is famous for its gridlock and traffic congestions which no state government regime seems to have an absolute solution to. Not helping the situation also is the presence of trucks which are sometimes parked on the streets barely leaving room for other motorists; it is not unusual to hear of trucks crushing people to death in Lagos traffic.
As reported by Vanguard Newspapers, there are currently over 12,337 tankers and container-laden trucks illegally parked in different parts of Lagos. The notorious spots include; the entire stretch of the dual carriage Oshodi-Apapa Expressway as well as inward Tin Can/Apapa.
These areas seem to have been invaded by Transformers just like the movie as the trucks choke the road and threaten to spill over. Consequently, traffic on the ever-busy road has been totally paralysed with attendant untold suffering for motorists, commuters and other road users.
An on the spot assessment by several reporters revealed that that no fewer than 12,337 Trucks, Tankers as well as other illegally parked are scattered in diverse locations of Lagos.
A breakdown of this shows that from Iyana Isolo to Tin Can, there are 3,200 trucks parked on the road; Ijora to Palmgrove, 3,485; from Marine Bridge to Ijora, 1850 and down the bridge, 1050; from Stadium to Eko Bridge, 874; from Costain—Stadium-Alaka—Fadeyi, 865; from Berger Suya to Kirikiri Road (New Road Bus stop, 678; from Wilmer Bridge to Awodiora (Ajegunle), 187; from Coker to Costain Bridge, 63 and the entire Berger area which has 671 of these articulated vehicles of which 210 are parked on the bridge.
It can be recalled that a tanker truck laden with petrol toppled over and exploded on the Otedola Bridge in Berger taking with it about 53 cars and 11 human lives.
Traffic has been shut down on the Oshodi- Apapa expressway since Monday when trucks descended on the area like Autobots being called to battle on the Lagos highway.
The trucks formed tight-parking queues that stretched all the way to Coker Bus stop, thereby denying other motorists and road users going to Mile Two, Berger and beyond access to the road.
By Tuesday, the mechanical horde had extended to Ilasa and got to Iyana Isolo yesterday with no official reaction on the part of the Lagos state government to check this menace.
Blame has been laid at the door step of the Nigeria Ports Authority for the unfortunate situation. It was reported that the unusual invasion of Lagos road by these trucks came as a result of the recent suspension of four major shipping lines by the Nigerian Ports Authority, (NPA) which took effect from July 14, 2018. The companies affected are Maersk, Cosco Shipping, APS and Lansal.
Although NPA had indicated that the suspension was part of efforts to resolve a protest by truck drivers at the Lagos Ports Complex and the Tin Can Island Port, Mr Isah Suwaid, Assistant General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications Division of NPA, had in a statement also informed that following investigations by the Authority, it was found that the affected shipping companies failed to fully comply with the directive to acquire and operate holding bays. Mr. Suwaid implied that their shortcoming in this regard implied that they have either failed to utilize their holding bays or do not have adequate capacity to handle the volume of containers that they deal with.
“Some of these companies have also been found to import a larger number of containers than empty containers exported thereby, making the country a dumping ground for empties. This has contributed to the persistent congestion around the Lagos Port Complex and the Tin Can Island Port spreading to other parts of Lagos metropolis where truck drivers with no immediate business at the ports now park their trucks on the expressways.”
“Stakeholders have agreed that while the call-up system through the ports management as advised by shipping companies will remain in force, personnel of the Nigerian Navy will discontinue the issuance of call ups, even though they will remain on the traffic management team.”
The Port Authority’s actions have however not saved the situation but rather complicated it. Due to their suspension, the companies now have no choice but to call on their trucks to assemble in the streets of Lagos, causing horrible pain to commuters.
Reacting to the situation, Chief Remi Ogungbemi, President of the Association of Maritime Transport Owners, (AMATO), blamed the development on the deplorable roads leading to the port, coupled with the closure of the Wharf bridge from Apapa to Ijora.
Furthermore, Ogungbemi said the situation will remain the same for some time so as to allow for the repairs of the closed bridge. He suggested that the only way out of the current situation is for the government to move away from the current analogue system of port operation and replace with a digital system because for the past 50 years since ports were built, there has not been a corresponding expansion of infrastructure despite increase in population and businesses.
“The roads cannot accommodate the traffic of vehicles that call at the ports daily. We need to go digital. We need to move out of the current analogue stage we currently operate.We need to put in place a modern technology that will monitor and regulate the movement of trucks that enter and exit the ports. There is no way all the terminals can accommodate the numbers of trucks that call at the port at once.”
When Elephants fight, it is the grass and ants that suffer. Commuters and motorists in Lagos continue to suffer the consequences of the NPA’s actions as most have been forced to look for alternative routes or drive against traffic to get to their destinations while others have been forced to trek.
This has resulted in several accidents with some fatalities as well as increased the activities of hoodlums who use the opportunity to rob passengers in traffic.
The General Manager of Lagos State Traffic Management Agency, (LASTMA), Wale Musa, have however said moves were on to restore sanity in the Lagos.
“In the wake of the present situation, a special squad to be led by General Manager Lagos State Traffic Management Agency, LASTMA, has been dispatched. Since Tuesday, we have commenced 24 hours operation. The task of the squad is to complement and create at least a corridor in the interim for other motorists to have movement. I can assure you that by tomorrow we should have about 50 per cent sanity in that area.