Apapa Oshodi Expressway. Photo credit: Google
The distressing traffic gridlock on the Apapa road leading to the port has constituted a major headache to the Nigeria Ports Authority, its acting Managing Director, Alhaji Mohammed Bello-Koko, has said.
Bello-Koko told newsmen on Sunday in Lagos that the traffic congestion problem had defied solutions “for more than 10 years now”.
With lots of trucks and other articulated vehicles always queueing to enter or come out of the Apapa port, the route is persistently chaotic with the heavy gridlock spanning several kilometres across Lagos.
“At NPA, we believe that priority needs to be given to our export cargo, but the major challenge for me is how to solve the gridlock in Apapa.
“One of the first executive actions I took when I was appointed was to visit the Tin can Apapa corridor to ensure that the right things are done and the right infrastructure is deployed. We are getting there gradually.
“We have put in measures to minimise the congestion in and around the port. NPA was using manual manifest and call up system which was not very effective because of human interference.
“We have brought in ETO (electronic call-up system), to ensure smooth inward and outward movement of cargo from the port.
“The company, TTP was given Lilly ponds on when they should operate. The idea was to ensure that all trucks coming in are supposed to move from trailers parks to Lilly ponds, then to the port.
“They were supposed to have deployed some physical and electronic infrastructure but that was not done. When I was appointed, I gave them ultimatum to ensure that those items are installed as quickly as possible.
“I can assure you today that there has been more deployment of assets by TTP. I also requested that we need to sit down and reappraise what they have achieved. Incidentally.
“ETO was 90 days old when I resumed. We did an analysis to see where we are, what has been achieved and we identified where the gaps were. So, what I did was to push for immediate implementation of the agreement between us and TTP.
“The idea of enforcement, whatever you come up with, there must be enforcement, so we liaised with the Lagos State Government to ensure that we have the right security operatives on the ground.
“We have also collaborated with Lagos State Government through Lagos State Transport Management Agency, which has brought a bit more sanity to the system.
“Because of our intense focus, there is already some improvement. There is a better flow of traffic. But let me finally say that the major hindrance to ETO is the road.
“The Tin Can corridor is bad. We have had discussions with the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing to ensure that the construction company deploys its gadgets to start construction around that area.
“We have also complained about multiple checkpoints which we have tried to reduce because it is bringing a lot of extortions and creating a lot of traffic.
“The final issue is the stakeholders themselves; they need to buy into this. I keep saying that the worst of ETO is better than the best of the last system that we were using,” he said.
He said that NPA had met with stakeholders and agreed that any truck park that did not install CCTV, ensure proper convenience for vehicle owners and drivers and had no automated gate system should be delisted.
“The idea is for the truck parks to be dovetailed into the ETO system,” he declared.