For Buhari, Apapa’s 12-year gridlock varnishes

As at 9 o’clock Wednesday night, the normal queue of trucks in and out of Apapa had disappeared. The round the clock, seven days a week chaos that has become a major feature of Apapa, causing hours of unending traffic jams, was gone. Also, security, up till now, is tight in Lagos.

The reason for this unusual development in Apapa, Nigeria’s port city and economic hub, which has become a metaphor for stress and suffering, is because President Muhammadu Buhari is expected in Lagos on today.

This is the second time Apapa is experiencing a gridlock-free day following the visit of President Buhari. The first was in 2019 when Buhari, as presidential candidate, visited the Lagos to canvass for votes.

The implication of all these is that Apapa can work again if those who have the power also have the will. It speaks volumes of what is possible not just with Apapa, but also the mess that defines Nigeria as nation. It is curious why somebody thinks Buhari shouldn’t see the chaos Apapa has become.

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All the committees, task-forces and task teams, including a Presidential Task Team on Apapa Gridlock which had the vice president as chairman, failed in their assignments because they were mere smokescreen and cosmetic arrangements never aimed to succeed.

While in Lagos, Buhari will be inaugurating the 157-kilometre Lagos-Ibadan standard rail project at the Mobolaji Johnson railway station in Ebutte Metta.

Thereafter, the president is expected to proceed to the Energy Nature Light Terminal of the Apapa Port to further commission the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure, otherwise known as the Deep Blue Project.

Presidential aide, Bashir Ahmad had on Wednesday noted that his principal would be in the nation’s commercial capital for the commissioning.

“Construction started in March 2017, and test-running commenced in December 2020,” he wrote on his Facebook page; the Ebute Metta Station, known as the Mobolaji Johnson Station, is the largest railway station in West Africa with a holding capacity of 6000 passengers.

“President Buhari is committed to developing a modern national railway network that will connect every part of Nigeria, and promote trade, travel, tourism, commerce and national integration,” Ahmad noted.

Buhari is expected back at the State House later on today after the inauguration of the projects.

The 156km Lagos—Ibadan standard gauge railway line in Lagos is the first double-track standard gauge rail in West Africa. It is also the first Nigerian railway line to be started and finished by the same government, since 1960.

The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, had earlier explained that the projects was primarily aimed at ensuring the seamless movement of cargoes from the Apapa Seaport via train to further decongest the ports.

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