Gridlock: Apapa needs Sanwo-Olu one more time
It was a terse statement and its import and emphasis were not lost on anybody who listened to Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the Governor of Lagos State, when he said, “I have fixed Apapa gridlock. And there’s no apology for that.”
The governor who spoke on a TV programme, ‘One-on-One with Governor Sanwo-Olu’ aired by Channels Television in Lagos, added, “you can ask, I’m on national television. What we have done, even NPA has written letters to commend us. All of the major businesses in Apapa have written letters to commend us. I get daily video recording of what is happening in Apapa.”
“All the residents of Apapa have written to me to thank us; what used to take them two to three hours now takes them 15-20 minutes,” the governor said.
This followed what now seems to be ‘Eto-App Magic’ that brought to an abrupt end 12 unbroken years of national malady called Apapa gridlock which had defied all government’s interventions as reflected in failed committees, taskforces, presidential task teams, etc.
Now, the gridlock is back with all the congestion and chaos that defined Apapa before the Eto App technology. The gridlock that the governor fixed has unfixed itself, hence residents, motorists and businesses in the port city are crying out to the governor to come and do it one more time.
To all Apapa stakeholders, Eto App remains the greatest wonder of this century. The residents particularly stopped short of rolling out drums for celebration when the App performed its magic. They were happy and joyful. But nothing less could be expected from a people that had been under siege for 12 years.
All too soon, however, their joy with its slender skin, is fading away like the stars of the morning giving way to the rising sun. The gridlock is back and has been made worse by a persisting fuel crisis which, in one breath, defines Nigeria as a rudderless country and, in another breath, mocks it as a food seller incrementally dying of hunger.
“Yes, we are back to the trenches and that is why we need Governor Sanwo-Olu here one more time. The governor told the world some months ago that he had fixed Apapa gridlock. Now the gridlock is back without any relief or solution in sight. We want the governor to come and fix it again, having done it before,” a resident, who did not want to be named, said.
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“You see, talk is cheap, especially among our politicians who like to profit from any good deed even when they have little or no contribution to its reality. Our governor said he fixed the gridlock; that for me, is being unfair to the NPA whose initiative actually did the work,” the resident added.
According to him, fixing the gridlock the way the governor did it was like building on quicksand. “Apapa, talking in terms of land size or the infrastructure, is overstretched and even the government knows this. The only solution that can last here is a functional rail system,” the resident suggested.
The Eto App was/is a technology deployed by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) in collaboration with the Lagos State government which, effectively, controlled movement of trucks in and out of Apapa, thus restoring sanity to the port city whose environment has been degraded badly by those trucks.
The anonymous resident wondered what could have happened to the App and its call up system; whether it was still working or has collapsed which is why the gridlock has returned and everybody, including the governor, seems to be looking away.
Besides the residents, motorists and business owners who had heaved a sigh of relief are now pained and disappointed with the return to the old order. They wonder why they cannot have peace just because truck operators are unruly and the governments at both federal and state levels are uncaring.
A business owner, identified simply as Ladipo, wondered why there must always be chaos on Apapa roads. “Why unleash trailers and tankers into Apapa when there is no access. What happened to the call up system that worked for two years? Are we victims of some power-play somewhere? Ladipo queried.
Some respite, however, comes occasionally through the intervention of Sola Giwa, a Lagos State government official appointed by Governor Sanwo-Olu to monitor and manage traffic situations.
“We are not unaware of the unnecessary and heavy incursion of trailers into Apapa. We’ve engaged their leadership and it seems not to be yielding any major positive effect. In a few hours, we would be taking some drastic steps to stem this affront to law and order,” Giwa assured.
Despite this assurance and others like it, motorists lament that commuting to Apapa from even places as near as Oyingbo, Lagos Island, Surulere, Yaba, etc remains a nightmare and takes as long as two hours for a journey that ordinarily shouldn’t be more than 30 minutes.
“This is Christmas season; it is election season as well; everywhere is congested and that should be the concern of a government that cares about its citizens. The entire Lagos city is congested and it is such that any turn takes you to the middle of nowhere,” Ladipo lamented, noting that fuel scarcity has added a new terrible dimension to it all.