Philip Nwosu and Steve Agbota
Truck drivers have defied President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive that they vacate access roads to the ports in Apapa and its environs, in 72 hours, in order to tackle gridlock around the country’s ports.
The presidential order was conveyed by Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo’s media aide, Laolu Akande, in a statement, last Tuesday.
He said the resolution was reached at an April 25 meeting in the Presidency.
It was resolved that the gridlock must be resolved in two weeks while trucks were ordered off the roads in 72 hours.
Regardless, as at yesterday evening, Daily Sun confirmed that trucks were still on Mile 2-Oshodi Expressway, blocking the road leading to TinCan port, while few trucks were still seen at Eko, Ijora and Apapa bridges, as well as other roads that lead to the port.
But, the trucks at Eko, Ijora and Apapa bridges moved at snail speed. Trucks on the Mile 2-OshodiEexpressway leading to TinCan port simply stay put.
One of the Task force Officers, Mr. Bolaji Hahinde, told Daily Sun truck drivers on Eko, Ijora and Apapa bridges are willing to comply with the presidential order and that the numbers of trucks in those areas have reduced.
He added: “The ones on the Mile 2-Oshodi expressway are still very much there. We are have been working both day and night. I can assure you, tonight (Sunday night till Monday morning); we are going into operation on the Mile 2-Oshodi expressway. We will ensure that the truck drivers cooperate and obey the order.”
A maritime expert, who declined to be named, said addressing gridlock is not rocket science and there was no need for the presidential order.
Other truck drivers told Daily Sun they do not know about the order and, moreover, “we cannot carry our vehicles on our heads or force our way through the TinCan port gate.”
A drive to TinCan port first gate area showed that bad roads prevented the trucks from easily accessing the facility.
The trucks have increased in numbers on Berger bridge, near the Car Mart and up to the inner roads leading to Olodi Apapa, where they have taken a single lane in the two lane motor way.
From the Ijora Marine Beach Bridge inward Apapa, up to Area B Police station area, the trucks lined up and were not ready to move. esThey said the taskforce has not permitted them to move and that when they do so, they will move.
The taskforce, made up all the security operatives in the country, including Police, Navy, Civil Defence, Federal Road Safety Corps and union members of transport unions, were seen under a tent, passing the trucks, one at a time. A truck driver who identified himself as Hassan Ibrahm, who spoke through another interpreter, explaining that, “it is not our fault that we are parked here.
“We want to deliver the containers and go back to either see our families or continue with our work, but, the roads here are impassable. As you can see, all trucks have been forced out of the main expressway to the service lane, as we try to manoeuver to reach our destination. Also, I learnt that the port operators have closed the gates and things are not that easy at all.”
Meanwhilem, Team Leader of the Presidential Committee on Clearing of Apapa Port and Access Roads, Kayode Opeifa, said the gridlock has been cleared by 50 percent.
He said clearing of trucks on Apapa port and access roads are moving steadily and the roads would soon be totally cleared of trucks.
Opeifa, who is representing Committee Chairman and Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, scored the exercise “as above average” within the first 24 hours of the deadline. He added that “the clean-up is going on” and that “most of the roads would be cleared of all trucks by today.”