The trailer park being constructed by the Federal Government opposite the Tin Can Island Second Gate along the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway is not yet open for use despite being substantially completed because of the need for security and efficiency of operation of the park, officials of the government have explained.
Funso Adebiyi, director of highways, South West Zone of the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, who gave this hint during a tour of the facility with journalists, also told the newsmen that the delay in the arrival of imported materials for the construction of a shoreline protection for the park was also delaying its opening.
The director was in Lagos for the commissioning of the Apapa-Ijora Bridge which, in the past eight months, had been closed to traffic, leading to diversion of traffic to narrow, rough and winding alternative routes that made commuting in and out of Apapa a terrible experience.
The bridge is now open to traffic and Adebiyi, who appealed to those who traded under the bridge to vacate the area before they were forced to do so by law-enforcement agents, hoped that its opening would significantly reduce the gridlock that has become the main feature of Apapa.
Travel time to Apapa has increased in the last two years by over 300 percent as it takes trucks about three days now to move from Apapa to Sagamu for a trip that would ordinarily have taken a few hours. In the same way, haulage cost has gone to the rooftops and transport operators are making a mince-meat of it.
The trailer park has facilities provided to aid its operation, including a building containing 24 toilet facilities, a police post, a restaurant, and flood-lighting facilities. The director said that until there was police presence in the park and all the facilities were functional, the park would not be put to use.
Adebiyi said the long-term plan was to concession the park but in the meantime it would be managed and operated by the Nigeria Ports Authority which, he said, would determine how much each trailer making use of the park would pay “because it can’t be for free”.
He assured that the imported facilities for the construction of the shoreline would arrive the park soonest as some of them would be brought into the country by air while the heavy materials would come by sea.
Gianfranco Albetazzi, general manager at Borini Prono, the Italian construction company handling the construction of the park, also assured that the park would be ready for use latest by the end of March this year. He assured further that while they waited for the materials to be imported, they would be busy with completing the fence separating the park from the expressway, fixing the lighting, putting finishing touches on the toilet facilities and the police post.
Contract for the construction of the trailer park was awarded in 2011 as part of the larger solution to the Apapa gridlock. It was conceived to take away about 300-400 trailers out of the expressway.
The park has been in perpetual construction due largely to poor funding by the Federal Government. The reconstruction of the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, which the park was meant to complement, had become a pipedream until late last year when it was concessioned to Dangote Group.
But since November 17, 2018 when the flag-off for the commencement of construction work on the expressway was done, motorists, business owners and residents of Apapa are still waiting with bated breath to see Dangote mobilise to site.
Trailers and tankers have continued their occupation of the expressway, making it a great ‘highway to hell’ as only commercial motorcycle operators (popularly called ‘okada riders’) can ply that route with their ‘human cargo’ snaking through moving and stationary trucks in and out of gullies and ditches.