The 72-hour ultimatum given by the presidency for trucks to vacate all roads and bridges in Apapa, Nigeria’s port city, ended last Friday which is 48 hours or two days ago today.
Perhaps, it is still early days to assess the success or failure of that presidential order, but truck activities and motorists’ experiences in and around Apapa in the last five days, despite the presidential directive, are pointers to the fact that Apapa and its stakeholders may be in for another ruse or hoax.
It has been really tough since Wednesday last week when the directive was given, but last weekend, particularly Saturday, was worse and those who had any business to transact or social function to attend in Apapa and the island had tales of woe to tell as they spent hours in nerve-straining gridlock at all approaches to Apapa.
Sunday was also tough as trucks being guided by security agencies, ostensibly members of the task force, took over Ijora Bridge, occupying two lanes instead of the usual one and, in some cases, blocking the entire bridge and denying other road users access.
The Wedesday May 22 presidential order which, apparently, was part of decisions reached at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting was the second of such directives on Apapa gridlock. The first was given in August 2018 by the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo. That one turned out a mere pipe smoke, an empty order that was never complied to by anybody.
Nigerians and, indeed, the whole world, were told on that fateful Wednesday that a new taskforce had been set up by President Muhammadu Buhari with a matching presidential order to clear ports congestion in two weeks, cause trailers and tankers to vacate port access roads in 72 hours, and start emergency clean-up of the Apapa gridlock.
That announcement was well received and celebrated in the media which came out with varying headlines expressive of relief and hope for not only the dying port city, but also the economy of the country which is being badly affected by slowing export and import activities in Apapa.
The celebration was more among the traumatized Apapa residents and business owners who, on daily basis, see their investments lose value due to the siege on their environment by rampaging trucks from every part of the country and making access routes to their homes and businesses their dwelling places.
Expectation was that with the new directive, which was said to have President Muhammadu Buhari’s backing, immediate respite would come the way of residents, business owners, motorists, port users and anybody who has something to do with/in Apapa. Five days after, it is still the same old story.
But the government urges patience, assuring that Apapa story will soon change for good. Adedamola Kuti, Federal Controller of Works in Lagos, hinged his assurance on the Tin Can Trailer Park which, he said, would be completed very soon because “we are working hard on it.”
BusinessDay has been told times without number that the opening of the Trailer Park is being delayed by the absence of basic and critical facilities needed at the park, especially water and electricity. By our last visit to the project site a couple of weeks ago, no serious work was being done on the two facilities.
Except for the construction of walkway for the shoreline protection which Borini Prono workers were busy on as at the time of the visit, the entire site would have been asleep.
Borini Prono, an Italian construction company, is the contractor handling the construction of the Trailer Park. Contract for the construction of the park was awarded by the Goodluck Jonathan administration about 8 years ago, making it one of the oldest construction sites in Nigeria at the moment.