Apapa: Where residents, motorists struggle for space with cows
Though Eto App and its call up system have ended an era of nightmares on Apapa roads and bridges, the ghost of gridlock still hovers around the port city, especially within the Government Reservation Area (GRA) where cows seem to be telling the residents “it is our turn.” They have literally overrun the area.
Residents and motorists are no longer worrying for the rampaging trailers and tankers, but for cows that have, in their numbers, taken over the city’s roads, streets and avenues, causing slow vehicular movement and despoiling the environment with their dung and all.
The worry, according to the residents, is not only about the presence of the cows in their environment, but also about the impunity of the cows without herders and the seeming helplessness of the local authorities in arresting the menace and bringing the owners, who are in hiding, to account.
“When we had traffic gridlock, it was the same thing. The gridlock was here, a very busy port city, for 12 whole years because the relevant authorities failed to do their duty until it became almost uncontrollable,” a resident who did not want to be named told BusinessDay on Tuesday.
Government’s seeming helplessness was reflected in a recent message signed and posted on the residents’ Whatsapp platform by the chief of staff at Apapa Local Government Area which, predictably, angered many of the GRA residents who reacted variously to the post.
According to the post, the residents had to be careful and bear with the government while it went about searching for the owners of the cows. While appealing to the residents to be patient with the government, the post also warned of the possible heat the arrest of the cows could bring on everybody.
The post reads: “Good day to all residents of Apapa LG, the issue of the cows roaming the streets of Apapa has become worrisome. In fact, the numbers of the herds have increased. It may seem that nothing is being done but be rest assured that the local authority and the state government are working to put a stop to this.
“We all have to be careful of the way and manner the situation is being handled. Nobody wants a situation of mere cows roaming the streets to escalate into a herder-war. Most of us criticising will not be able to stand the heat should things get out of hand. Please let’s be sensitive about this matter. The government is trying to locate the owners of the cows. Kindly bear with us.”
Chuma Ngini, a resident, was furious, describing the chief of staff’s post as unfortunate. He could not believe that such a response to the cow menace was coming from a local government authority.
“People should not aspire for certain positions of service if they don’t have capacity to deal with the challenges. While the government readily contravenes citizens for slightest traffic offences instead of correcting them, we should be patient when it comes to letting cows loose on public roads,” he said.
Another resident, who introduced herself simply as Adebanke, was also worried, warning that “if the situation goes unchecked, it becomes the new normal and the government will have to spend a fortune in future to get rid of them. Apapa may soon be back to the same menace; it’s just that instead of trailers and okada, it will be cows.”
Continuing, she said, “the day some car will hit a cow, hell will be let loose from Ijora Badiya to Ajegunle and total anarchy will result. I am not prophesying doom, but a stitch in time saves nine.”
Kemi Magaji, yet another resident, noted that government was permitted to seize goods if they became a threat to public safety, welfare and health.
According to her, “you don’t need to look for owners of the cows. All the government needs to do is to station a truck that will evacuate roaming cows daily and arrest the herdsmen. These herdsmen should be heavily fined for their actions upon seizure of their cows. Why don’t cows roam the streets of Ikoyi?”
For residents and motorists in this premier port city, it seems that joy has slender skin as their environment frequently moves from one level of challenge to another, leaving them in pains and woes.
When the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) in collaboration with the Lagos State introduced the Eto App in February 2021, putting an end to a 12-year damaging traffic gridlock, the residents, businesses and motorists in the port city rolled out drums in celebration.
Till today, that feat by Eto App which has largely cleared the proverbial Apapa gridlock up to 80 percent, according to NPA, remains a miracle and dream of a lifetime come true. A significant level of respite came the way of all and sundry.
But that joy has been punctured considerably by the roaming cows which have no respect for anybody— neither the residents nor the road users. They are either on the toads obstructing traffic flow or at people’s residences and business premises.