Apapa: No hiding place for motorists as trucks overrun port city

Since the collapse of the much-hyped electronic call-up system introduced to control Apapa traffic, commuting to the port city has, in the last couple of weeks, become a nightmare once again, leaving motorists without any hiding place or space to drive through.

The situation was much worse Wednesday afternoon with gridlock on every road and even streets that led motorists to Apapa. It was such that driving from the Island to the port city on Eko Bridge took motorists nearly three hours, a journey that ordinarily would not take more than 30 minutes.

Whether it was Eko Bridge, Ijora-Apapa Bridge, Ikorodu-Road through Funso William Avenue, or Mobil Road, the story was the same—trucks occupied every available space, keeping motorists on one spot for hours.

“We are under siege again. As it is now, one cannot go out and come back to his house even in five hours. We thought the electronic system was the messiah we had been waiting for all these years, more so as the system recorded success in its first three days. There is no doubt that the system has collapsed and we are back to square one,” an Apapa resident, who did not want to be named, lamented.

With a tone of frustration, a motorist who identified himself simply as Taofeek, said, “we have been here for hours; everywhere is blocked; these trucks are everywhere. Now, where is the call-up system they say they are using to call the trucks?” he asked rhetorically.

Meanwhile, Lilypond Transit Camp is almost empty as these trucks are everywhere on the roads and bridges. This could be the situation in other transit parks where these trucks are meant to stay and wait for their invitation to the ports through the call-up system.

Recently, as part of the reforms that came with the introduction of the electronic call-up system, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) listed seven locations approved as satellite truck parks, shipping companies’ empty container holding-bays, and waterfront loading and landing ports for a roll in, roll out barge operations.

These were meant to keep the trucks off the roads and bridges and also to have some order in their movement to the ports. They were also meant to give a breather to other road users in Apapa.

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Those approved truck parks are Anet Construction & Development Concept Ltd located at Second Rainbow, Amuwo-Odofin Industrial Estate, with the capacity to sit 250 trucks; Bomarah Investment Ltd, 36/42 Adeleye Street, Orile-Iganmu with the capacity to sit 100 trucks; Spezial Bau located at Olowotedo, Lagos- Ibadan Expressway with the capacity to accommodate 100 trucks and JOF (Nig) Ltd, located at Plot 3/4 Adewunmi Industrial Estate, Kudirat Abiola Way, Oregun, Ikeja with a capacity to sit 150 trucks.

Others are JOF (Nig) Ltd located at 16/18 Oyefeso Avenue Obanikoro Lagos, which has the capacity to sit 75 trucks; Hog-Amazon Ltd, Plot 11-16 Lekki-Epe Expressway, Okrisan Epe Opposite Old Berger yard with the capacity to sit 250 trucks and Foru Solution B.V. Ltd at 399 Ikorodu Road, Ojota Lagos which has the capacity to sit 500 trucks.

NPA also approved three holding-bays for PIL Shipping and they are Sinoma Terminal, GMT Terminal and Sapid Bonded Terminal as well as two holding-bays for Ocean Network Express Nigeria Ltd – Sifax Bonded Terminal Ijora and Okota.

The authority also approved four holding-bays for Cosco Shipping Nig Ltd including Emog Bonded Terminal, Michelle Bonded Terminal, Migfo Bonded Terminal and Classic Marine Services Ltd while Grimaldi Agency Nig Ltd was given two approved holding-bays which include Off-Dock Terminal and Tin-Can Buffer.

The best these truck parks have done is to distribute the proverbial Apapa gridlock to every part of Lagos except, perhaps, Ikoyi and Alausa because most of the trucks are on the roads and not the parks.

This explains why on Lagos-Badagry Expressway, trucks are on the whole stretch of the expressway from Mile 2 to Abule Ado, and then from Barracks to Okokomaiko, making the Expressway a highway to hell.

It is the same scenario on Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, Ikorodu-Road-Funsho Williams Avenue; Bode Thomas Street in Surulere, Iganmu Bridge, and other adjoining roads that have a link to Apapa like Mobil Road to Boundary in Ajegunle.

What Lagos residents, especially those in Apapa and businesses in the port city are seeing now belie all the promises and assurances by the Lagos State government and authorities of the NPA that when the call-up system came on stream, no truck would be seen within the port vicinity, except on call.

“We will not stop at anything to ensure that anybody that tries to retract and take us back to where we are coming from on the gridlock on Apapa, we will do everything that we have to fight those people,” Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Lagos State governor, had said.

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