• Sunday, May 19, 2024
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Businesses heave sigh of relief as Apapa-Oshodi Expressway breathes again

Businesses heave sigh of relief as Apapa-Oshodi Expressway breathes again

For the first time in a decade, commuters and port users can now access Tin-Can and Apapa Ports through the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, all thanks to the authorities that sacked tankers, trailers and rent-seekers from the main artery into ports in Lagos.

In the past, the Mile 2 to Tin-Can Island part of the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway had been under the clutches of uncoordinated truckers and rent-seekers that profit from the daily gridlock on the road through the collection of illegal tolls from truck drivers that do business at the port.

Before now, businesses and port users reported losses in both health and money terms as containers leaving the port to importers’ warehouses were delayed for days or weeks in some cases, port users also spent hours on the road while truckers were forced to pay illegal fees to unauthorised rent collectors.

The unfortunate ones, on the other hand, lost their lives while riding bikes popularly known as okada in between trucks and tankers.

Today, the above scenarios have become a thing of the past as the road which is notorious for traffic congestion is now free from gridlock enabling commuters and haulage operators to drive through with ease.

“History was made by the Lagos State Government and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) with the sacking of trailers and truckers from the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway. These days, I take a vehicle at Cele bus stop and in less than 20 minutes, I will be in Apapa,” said Sandra Omo, a clearing agent.

Omo told BusinessDay that she has not used a bike to go to Apapa since the road was cleared earlier in March.

According to her, the new development is beginning to translate into gains for the port industry as truckers no longer demand extra money to settle rent-seekers who mount checkpoints on the road.

When BusinessDay visited the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway this week, it was discovered that the road was free from congestion and that motorists including port users can now access Tin-Can and Apapa Ports from Mile 2 without having to go through Boundary in Ajegunle or other alternative routes.

Also, it took less than 20 minutes to commute from the Cele bus stop to Tin-Can and Apapa Wharf. Only a few tankers were seen going into the tank farms between Sunrise and Coconut using only the service lane while the entire expressway was left open for other road business.

It was also discovered that trading and other bus stop activities that usually clog the road had disappeared as shanties and hawkers were taken off the road.

Dera Nnadi, Customs Area Controller of Tin-Can Island Port Command, said the Mile 2- Tin-Can corridor has not been in use for several years because of the menace of truck drivers leaving their vehicles on the major road.

He commended Babajide Sanwo-Olu, governor of Lagos State for the political will to ensure the exercise succeeded after several years of facing challenges on the pot corridor.

He added that the opening of the Tin Can corridor will increase cargo throughput, enhance trade facilitation, and ensure more revenue collection for the government.

“The good thing now is that the road has been cleared and the heaps of refuse removed for us to have sanity around the port corridor,” Nnadi said.

Also, Bala Mohammed, a haulage operator, gave kudos to the duo of Nigerian Ports Authority and Lagos State Government for clearing the Augean stable of Tin-Can.

This, according to him, led to gridlock, the creation of extortion points and shanties that were polluting the environment, and harbouring non-governmental extortion bandits, and criminals using hard drugs and deadly weapons.

“The Tin-Can road clearance would further heighten security within the Tin-Can Port, promote free-flow traffic, and enable the Eto call-up system to function effectively for seamless evacuation of cargo and trade facilitation.

“NPA and Lagos State Government should try and sustain the tempo of the operation to prevent the re-grouping and returning of extortion bandits and other unpatriotic criminal elements that are feeding fat from the artificially induced Tin-Can traffic anarchy to the detriment of port security, import/export cargo delivery trucking business, call-up system, and Nigeria’s trade facilitation,” Mohammed told BusinessDay.

Another gain from the free flow of traffic on Mile 2 to Tin-Can Second Gate was removing flirts and a heap of refuse that occupied ample space on the road for years. Previously, the Lagos Waste Management Agency complained of not being able to gain access to clear the refuse on the road.

Stakeholders are however hopeful that Apapa-Wharf Road, the second artery into ports in Lagos, which is currently under repair, would also get better after the repair work.