Motorists on the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway and the Ijora-Apapa bridge in Lagos are once again back to what has been described as an endless drama of pain, as trailer and tanker drivers have taken over these routes in defiance of stakeholders’ directive that they should occupy only one lane on the expressway.
It has been a total gridlock on these roads in the last four days, making motorists spend three to four hours commuting to work and lose productive hours of their day in the gridlock that is impacting on their health.
Benson Ohgifo, a journalist whose office is in Apapa shared his experience with BusinessDay. He said it ordinarilly takes him just 30 minutes to reach Ijora Bridge from Lekki Phase One, but that yesterday the journey took three hours.
BusinessDay investigations also revealed that transport fares on the Apapa route increased by more than 100 percent yesterday.
Vincent Egbo who lives in Aguda and works in Apapa, said the fare from Ojuelegba to Apapa which used to be N100 has gone up to N200 and N300 depending on the time of the day.
One of the tanker drivers told BusinessDay at the Second Gate of the Tin Can Island Ports, that the call system which was one of the measures adopted at a stakeholders meeting to control the influx of tankers and trailers into Apapa was no longer effective.
According to the driver who did not want to be named, some tanker and trailer drivers felt short-changed by the manner the call system was applied. He added that a lot of them were yet to be called up since the measure became effective late last month.
On Thursday, while in the gridlock on Ijora Bridge enroute Apapa, BusinessDay also gathered that most of the tankers on the road were not on call, but were there because it was rumoured that there could be fuel scarcity arising from a strike action by oil workers.
At a stakeholders’ meeting convened by the Presidency, following economic and social paralysis of Apapa and environs by trailer and tanker drivers who blocked every entry and exit route to the port city, it was agreed that the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) should strengthen its call up system whereby only trailers and tankers listed for business were called up. It was further said that defaulting trucks would be confiscated. Additionally, it was agreed that the Federal Government should effect emergency repairs of the failed portions of the expressway which were considered a major contributor to the gridlock.
The government contracted Julius Berger, the German construction company to do this. The palliative work which covered the Sunrise to Tin Can Second Gate stretch of the dual carriage way has been completed.
BusinessDay also discovered Wednesday, that work on the trailer park being constructed by Borini Prono has been moving at a very slow pace, casting doubt on the possibility of delivering the park in January as the contractor promised at the stakeholders meeting.