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Apapa gridlock: Lagos, NPA strengthen collaboration, say end now in sight

…as electronic call-up system takes off Saturday …500 personnel to enforce traffic around Apapa

Ahead of the February 27 launch of the electronic call-up system (Eto App) that will define trucks’ movement into the ports, the Lagos State government and Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) are tying all loose ends to bring about the much-needed solution to end traffic congestion that has crippled businesses and afflicted residents of Apapa for more than a decade now.

Already, the NPA has licensed eight parks scattered around Lagos, where trucks coming into the state would be expected to park, and from there, move into Apapa upon receiving a signal through the Eto App which all truck drivers would be expected to download. The call-up platform would be complemented by virtual dashboards that would be placed in strategic locations around the seaports, where all stakeholders would monitor the scheduling of container movement.

What this means is that, from Saturday, February 27, the movement of trucks into the Lagos seaports would be organised through a transparent electronic call-up system that would be based on first-come-first-serve. With the new system, no container-laden truck would be expected to go on the Apapa corridor without clearance from the call-up platform. Any truck that flouts the electronic roster and park along the Apapa corridor would be impounded by the taskforce already set up by the Lagos State government.

Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Lagos State governor, speaking on Tuesday during a visit to his office by Hadiza Usman, managing director of the NPA, said the development signalled an end to truck-induced chaos that had been witnessed in Apapa for over a decade.

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The governor praised the NPA for the innovative approach towards tackling the truck menace around the ports, pledging that the state government would sustain the effort with strict enforcement of traffic regulations along the Apapa corridor.

“This is the beginning of a better journey time for our citizens within the Apapa seaports and environ. This electronic system has a limited interface with security operatives and unions, which usually cause the gridlock problem. It will be a simple case of possessing electronic clearance. If you don’t have it, you don’t have any reason to be around the seaports.

“In enforcing the new regulations, we are deploying more than enough towing vehicles to impound erring trucks. The huge amount to be paid as a fine for flouting the call-up system will be a deterrent for drivers not to repeat it. The stakeholders need to understand we are serious about ridding Apapa of the menace that has brought pains to our citizens living and doing businesses along the corridor.”

Sanwo-Olu said the state government would be deploying 500 officers of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) to work collaboratively with the NPA and enforce the new call-up regulation, just as he has directed the state’s agency not to spare any effort in achieving free flow of traffic in Apapa.

Sanwo-Olu said the state was working out a collaboration between the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Vehicle Inspection Service (VIS) and NPA to ascertain the roadworthiness of trucks before leaving their stations to the seaports. This, he said, is to check truck accidents on the highways.

“With this, we can bring back a better living experience for Apapa residents through the new system and have better traffic movement on routes in the area,” he said.

Hadiza Usman, the NPA boss said the visit to the State House was to brief the governor on the status of the electronic call-up platform before it would be fully launched. She said the development underscored NPA’s commitment towards ending the menace of trucks around the seaports.

She said part of the advantages of the new system was the creation of eight approved parks where all trucks must first be stationed before being electronically called into the seaports.

The NPA boss said the electronic system had addressed the excuses usually given by truck drivers for parking their vehicles on the highways, stressing that any truck found around the ports without electronic clearance would be impounded.

“The deadline for the commencement of the electronic call-up system is February 27, 2021, and we are here to strengthen collaboration with the Lagos State government on implementation and compliance as we commence the process. The new system will be done in collaboration with the state. We have worked seamlessly to ensure Apapa is rid of the menace of trucks,” Usman said, adding that all truck owners and stakeholders had been briefed on the development over the past months. She added that empty containers must now be deposited with the shipping companies, which are expected to keep the containers in their holding bays at no cost to individuals who own the shipment.

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