By Adedapo Adesanya
There are strong indications that the gridlock being experienced in the Apapa axis of Lagos State will not see any improvement this year.
This is because the Presidential Task Team (PTT) on the Restoration of Law and Order has faulted stakeholders for sabotaging its efforts.
The Vice-Chairman of PTT, Mr Kayode Opeifa, declared recently that his team has no control over the delay in transit ranging from three to six weeks for trucks to reach the ports from Mile-2, a distance of about 10 kilometres.
Mr Opeifa, during a media tour of the Apapa port environment, said the inefficiency and lack of proper coordination among stakeholders were the major issues affecting port and traffic in Apapa and its environ.
“There is no problem on this axis of Apapa, what we have are issues. Some of the issues are that the construction is ongoing but a lot of transporters don’t have the information which their agencies, authorities owe them. They need to inform their clients and find a way to inform the public.
‘‘This is because a lot of people are taking advantage of the happenings to extort their principals, drivers exploiting the managers, managers exploiting the shippers, shippers exploiting me and you.
“So, there is a need for information for the public to understand what’s going on here. Then the stakeholders should take ownership of the place.
“Terminal operators should be interested in how people access their terminals and not just attending to whoever they see.
“Transporter should be interested in the welfare of the drivers.
‘‘The port management needs to be concerned with all the issues because somebody needs to tell them when the road will be closed and when they need to come, our job in PTT is to maintain the law and order by ensuring that only those who are asked to come are allowed to move on the road.
“Unfortunately, we are at the receiving ends; everyone thinks we are the one deciding. No, we are not, we only carry out order restoration based on the directives of the operation of the port. But when that operation of the port has efficiency issue, it is a problem to the entire system.
“The contractor needs to gain access to certain places to do its work, the earlier the contractor gains access to where he needs to work, the better for the operation of the port. These are the issues.
‘‘However, the ports must keep working too. We need the port managers to be more responsive in the overall scheme of things.
‘‘We believe in few months’ time the Apapa area will take better shape for movements and port activities, much more orderliness would be restored.’’
Speaking on the transit park for trucks, Mr Opeifa stated, “Regardless of restriction from the construction site, from Mile 2 to major parts along the corridor, you can see you no longer see trucks from Mile 2 to Oshodi, and once the truck moves inside here, (Berger, Coconut area), they feel more relaxed in the port corridor.
“We have no control over how many hours they will spend before getting into the port which depends on port operations. If not for the construction work going on, the movement into the port should be faster. Many of the trucks you see don’t have any business at the port and if you ask them, they don’t even know they are not supposed to be on the road.
“We were sent by the Presidency to restore law and order and we have honestly, achieved that to a large extent. What I’d needed at the ports now is the efficiency in all operations and there is a need for a proper definition of those who supposed to be at the port and not.
“Most of the issues around here comes from one or two terminals out of 15 terminals. So those who are charged with the responsibility of regulating the port should be at their best efficiency,” Mr Opeifa said.
Giving input on the construction timeline, the PTT Vice Chairman noted that the contractor has done a fantastic work so far with the target to complete work between November and December 2020.
He explained, “Our job is to work pending the introduction of electronic call-up system, earlier scheduled to commence on August 1, 2019, but a year after, we are not there yet.
“We believe by the time the road is completed and electronic call-up system commences, in December 2020, 80 per cent of restoration of order would have been achieved and we will see less of human disorderliness. Digitalization will replace operations and we have to deal with fewer issues.”
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