According to a presidency statement signed by Laolu Akande, the spokesman to VP Yemi Osinbajo:
- “A Presidential directive has been issued for the immediate clearing up of the Apapa gridlock and the restoration of law and order to Apapa and its environs within 2 weeks.
- “The directive mandates the immediate removal of all trucks from the bridges and roads within Apapa and all adjoining streets leading into the Apapa axis.
- “To facilitate this important assignment, operators of trucks and tankers have also been directed to vacate the Port Access Roads within the next 72 hours.”
Backstory: In an emergency meeting chaired by Osinbajo last month, solutions to the congestion were suggested. A presidential task force headed by the vice president was consequently established to restore law and order in the area within two weeks.
What the task force is expected to do:
- Develop an efficient and effective management plan for the entire port area traffic, including the cargo, fuel distribution and business district traffic;
- Enforce the permanent removal of all stationary trucks on the highway;
- Develop an effective manual truck call-up system, pending the introduction of the electronic truck call-up system;
- Implement a workable Empty Container Return and Export Container Truck Handling Policy, amongst others.
Members of the taskforce include Mr. Kayode Opeifa, former Commissioner of Transport in Lagos State, as the Executive Vice Chairman; a representative of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC); the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA); and the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC).
Other members include a special unit of the Nigeria Police Force led by a Commissioner of Police, representatives of the Truck Transport Union, the Lagos State Government through the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), and other relevant MDAs.
Some immediate actions: The Nigerian Navy and all other military formations have been asked to withdraw from traffic management duties in and around the Apapa axis.
- Also, military and paramilitary checkpoints in front of the ports and environs are to be dismantled.
- In addition, LASTMA has been authorised to move into Apapa as the lead traffic management agency.
- The NPA is to commence the immediate use of the Lilypond Terminal and Trailer Park A as a truck transit park.
Be Smart: This is not the first time governments (or even this government) is making public pronouncements about actions to sanitise the Apapa port area. It usually fizzles out due to non-compliance. Less than a year ago, a couple of government agencies came together to launch “Operation Restore Sanity” in Apapa, but the insanity has proved relentless. So before getting hopes too high over the latest directive, it would make sense to wait and see.
One more thing: The Lagos Governor-Elect, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has said he would solve the problem in 60 days after his swearing-in. So if the presidential directive fails, we have something else to look forward to.