Tanker drivers and operators of articulated vehicles have been given a 48-hour ultimatum to vacate the bridge and roads leading to seaports in the Apapa axis of Lagos in “national interest and security.”
The ultimatum was handed down on Wednesday by the Nigerian Military and the Lagos State Government as the perennial gridlock in the area completely shut down the access roads for over 24 hours.
The resolution was reached during a stakeholder meeting at the Naval Base in Apapa, comprising the military, Nigerian Port Authority (NPA), Lagos State Government and the Nigerian Union Petroleum Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG).
Others who attended the stakeholders meeting were representatives of the Nigerian Police, Dangote Group, Apapa Residents Association, Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, Apapa Government Reserved Area Residents Association, among others.
The Flag Officer Commanding, Western Naval Command of the Nigerian Navy, Rear Admiral Sylvanus Abbah, convener of the meeting, appealed to the tanker drivers to leave the bridge in national interest. According to him, terrorists might take the advantage of the traffic situation to strike in Lagos and this has to be prevented from happening.
“Costain is going to be the turning point of the trucks. After 48 hours, no truck will park on the bridge because of national interest and I hope you will all take the decision of this meeting serious,” he said.
According to him, some of the trucks had been parked on the bridge for weeks, putting tremendous pressure on the bridge which might lead to collapse. Abbah said a committee would also be set up which would involve the major stakeholders including NUPENG to further address the traffic situation.
“All major stakeholders, most especially the shipping lines will be in the committee and if I have my way, the Apapa Local Government chairman would spearhead the committee,” he said. The NPA Traffic Manager, Mr Ogini Victor, who represented the Port Manager, Mrs Aisha Ali-Ibrahim, said that the Apapa Gridlock has become a barber’s chair that is rotating and not moving anywhere.
“Synergy is the keyword that can solve the problem of the gridlock. We have also decided that all empty containers should go to holding bays and we will make sure our men give us report on how many trucks park at the bay daily,” he said.
The representative of NUPENG, Comrade Adekunle Adelaja, while reacting to the directive, said that the union does not support tankers parking on the bridge. He enjoined all stakeholders to find a lasting solution to the problem as it was affecting everyone.
“We need to have another meeting and call all the farm tankers. Let us see how we can be able to do the programming that trucks will just go to the depot without parking on the bridge,” he said. The Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Transport, Mr Taiwo Salau, said that there should be good synergy among security agencies to resolve the traffic situation.
“There should be synergy among security agencies so that these areas can be cleaned up and have a check point before the long bridge,” he said.