Mr Kayode Opeifa, the Executive Vice Chairman, Presidential Task Team on Apapa Restoration of Law and Order, says his team has delivered its mandate to bring sanity to Apapa axis of Lagos by ensuring easier access in and out of the area.
Opeifa said this during a visit to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Tuesday while monitoring of the traffic situation in Apapa.
According to him, tankers are no longer on the road paralysing economic activities before the task force was set up.
When asked that tankers were again on the road, Opeifa said: “That is not correct and that is extremely alarming and a wrong impression of the fact.
“The fact of the matter is that tankers are no longer on the road. The trucks are no longer on the road. What you see on the road, the day you don’t see them again, Nigeria is in recession.
” We need to understand what the road is meant for. The road is not meant for Keke Marwa and Okada. Apapa road is meant for all kinds of vehicles and mainly trucks – articulated vehicles.
“The tankers came back visibly when the Ijegun Jetty was shut down by Lagos State Government and the DPR around the middle of October. They were all diverted back to Apapa to load. That was for a national emergency.”
According to him, the current surge is only on one side of Apapa and the surge is early in the morning.
He said that the team had directed tankers not to come out before 10:00 a.m.
The committee vice chairman said the gridlock used to extend up to Maryland before the task was inaugurated, but now the situation had changed.
He said the access road to the ports had also been made easier for tankers and trucks.
He said that many of the tankers on roads were going mainly to Marine Bridge to load to the Northeast and other northern parts of Nigeria.
Opeifa said the problems in Apapa would soon be solved with the movement of petroleum products by the pipeline up to Ilorin, Kwara State, massive road rehabilitation as well as extension of rail line to the port.
He said that most of the areas in Apapa belonged to the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) in the past, but the privatisation had brought lot of encroachment.
Opeifa described the notion that articulated vehicles should maintain a single lane into the port so as not to disturb other road users as a wrong management principle.
He said that tankers had right the right to be on the road like other road users at the same time because of the economic and social purposes, but they should not obstruct other motorists.
The committee vice chairman said that if the depots were working and there were no breakdowns, there would not be any reason for articulated vehicles to stay on roads.
“From May 22 till date, I can tell you the tankers are off the roads, but when we have Christmas, what do you expect? Roads are congested, activities increase, fuel distribution increases and containers coming to the port increase.
“The port is now congested to the tune of over 125 per cent because we have closed down the borders.
“So, all the ships meant for Nigeria that were going to Benin have been diverted back to our port. Terminals must be more efficient,” he said
Opeifa said that tankers queued because they could not get to their depots, while trucks queued behind tankers because they could not get to their terminals.
According to him, trucks are coming to port en mass and nobody is controlling the way they come in.
He said there was the need for appropriate regulators before the ports were concession.
On trailer parks, Opeifa said that all depots had tanker parks as well as loading bays, but not all were performing optimally.
He said that his team identified about 48 possible trailer parks to keep up to 3,500 trailers to only come to the port whenever they were called, but the attack on Lilypond was a setback.
“The trucks need to do that in a way that they don’t affect others and we did that for three good months until that attack on Lilypond and the corruption-fight-back started.
“NPA should take care of managing the trucks within Lilypond, Shippers Council should take care of its economic regulation, the trucking companies, customs and everybody should behave and obey the laid down regulations.
“We have demonstrated this in June July, August, September up to the middle of October that we can have truck-free roads. No tankers spend one day on Lagos roads now, but hours. We have delivered on our mandate.
“How did the trucks come back on the road? The reason is that Lilypond, the epic centre of the call-up system was attacked and it is yet to come back to action.”
Opeifa denied allegations that extortion was fuelling disorderliness and lawlessness by truckers, but said that unhealthy competition to access the ports encouraged the development.
He said that all corruption would end whenever the Federal Government’s long, medium and short term solutions to Apapa situation were effective.
Opeifa said that in the restoration plan, the Lagos State Government was charged to repair some roads, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to work on pipelines, while the NPA would carry out some reforms like release of Lilypond and electronic call-up system. (NAN)