The Apapa Government Reserved Area Residents Association has given the Federal Government a 21-day ultimatum to clear all bridges and roads in the area of trucks to ease movement.
The residents on Friday told journalists that unless urgent steps were taken to resolve the traffic problems, they would mobilise and shut down the area completely. The President of the association, Brig. Gen. Sola Ayo-Vaughan (retd), said the traffic congestion which had turned Apapa and other parts of the Lagos metropolis into one huge parking lot was as a result of government’s lack of planning and will to enforce its laws and policies.
He noted that the continuous queues of trucks and tankers blocking the entire network of intersecting roads, bringing traffic in all directions to a standstill were no longer acceptable. Ayo-Vaughan stated that the problem which was within Apapa had snowballed into a Lagos traffic, making movement in the area and its environs a nightmare.
He said, “the bridges which were built to facilitate movement of vehicles have been converted into a permanent parking lot for trailers and tankers, restricting vehicular movement.
Turning bridges into a parking lot is unacceptable anywhere in the world because of the inherent danger that may consequently cause calamity. The government has been warned of the looming danger which is inevitable if this practice continues.
It is a matter of time. It is worthy to note that government officials and the Chief Executive Officers of the companies, government parastatals operating in Apapa and Tin-Can Island ports do not reside in Apapa.”
According to Ayo-Vaughan, the government agencies and shipping companies operating in the area are aware of the situation but do not care because of the financial benefits they derive from it. He alleged that shipping companies were feeding fat on unearned container deposit and demurrage while terminal operators were having a field day collecting crazy storage charges from importers by restricting trucks in ports under the guise of no network.
He added that truckers were also benefitting from the chaos by hiking their rates from N70, 000 within Lagos to N600, 000.
“Residents and workers in Apapa are in this mess alone and if we don’t stand up for ourselves, nothing will happen. Anything short of physical mobilisation at this point will be meaningless.
The Apapa gridlock is man-made and we are pressed beyond measures to do something about it. It is our belief that the government and its agencies in connivance with shipping companies deliberately refused to implement the policies meant to keep the trucks off our roads to force us out and turn the whole Apapa into port area,” he said.