Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Presidency has given two weeks for the immediate clearing up of the intractable Apapa gridlock and the restoration of law and order to Apapa and its environs.
It also gave operators of trucks and tankers 72 hours to vacate the access roads leading to the ports.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity (Office of the Vice President), Laolu Akande, in a statement, said the directive mandated the immediate removal of all trucks from the bridges and roads within Apapa and all adjoining streets leading into the Apapa axis.
Akande said the directive followed an emergency meeting convened by President Muhammadu Buhari and chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, on April 25, 2019.
The presidential spokesman said: “The meeting proffered lasting solutions to the gridlock around the Lagos Ports, as the traffic congestion has continued to restrict all operations and livelihood in the area.”
At the meeting were key heads and representatives of relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government, including the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola; Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu; representative of the Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral B.E.E Ibe-Enwo; Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Transportation, Dr. Salaam Taiwo Olufemi and the Executive Director, Marine and Operations, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Dr. Sokonte Davies, among others.
“Consequently, a Presidential Taskforce, chaired by Vice President Osinbajo was established to restore law and order to the area within two weeks.
“The taskforce, which will report directly to the president, has included on its terms of reference the development of an efficient and effective management plan for the entire port area traffic, including the cargo, fuel distribution and business district traffic; enforcing the permanent removal of all stationary trucks on the highway, and the development of an effective manual truck call-up system, pending the introduction of the electronic truck call-up system. It also includes the implementation of a workable Empty Container Return and Export Container Truck Handling Policy, amongst others,” Akande said.
Members include Mr. Kayode Opeifa, former Commissioner of Transport in Lagos State, as the executive vice chairman; a representative of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC); the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA); and the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC).
Other members include a special unit of the Nigeria Police Force led by a Commissioner of Police, representatives of the Truck Transport Union, the Lagos State Government through the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), and other relevant MDAs.
The Nigerian Navy and all other military formations have also been mandated to withdraw from traffic management duties in and around the Apapa axis, while military and paramilitary checkpoints in front of the ports and environs are to be dismantled.
In addition, LASTMA has been authorised to move into Apapa as the lead traffic management agency, while the NPA is to commence the immediate use of the Lilypond Terminal and Trailer Park A as a truck transit park. The directive further mandates compliance by all security personnel and MDAs, while heads of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Nigeria Customs Service, Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, and all other security operatives are to ensure their officers’ adherence to the new directives.