truck drivers, touts dare Sanwo-Olu to evict them – Truck drivers and touts yesterday dared the governor to evict them despite his ultimatum to maintain normalcy along the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway from Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
You may remember that Governor Sanwo-Olu conducted an inspection tour of the axis last Friday and issued a warning to the truckers to get off the road or face the repercussions.
Even though there was some partial compliance on Monday, the traffic problem has gotten worse since the police and the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, or LASTMA, failed to stop touts from returning to the Mile-2 axis.
The truck drivers are daring the Lagos State government to address the issue by addressing the root cause and other contributing causes, noting that truck drivers are also people. The truck drivers claimed to have settled everyone involved in the traffic management along the route.
Lamentations of untold hardship—Truck drivers
“From the look of things, everyone is blaming truck drivers, who are suffering untold hardship on the road while the police, LASTMA, NUPENG officials, and area boys, who extort us are left to continue with their exploitations on us on daily basis.” a truck driver who only went by the name Abdullahi said.
In order to find a long-term solution to the issue, Abdullahi encouraged the state government to call a meeting of all the stakeholders involved in the administration of the axis with truck drivers.
According to Abdullahi, the administration’s present efforts are only scraping the surface of the problem. “I am appealing to the government to meet with all the parties to find a lasting solution, otherwise their current effort is like scratching the surface of the matter,” he added.
He pointed out that the majority of the officials mentioned live off the sweat of the truck drivers, who toil day in and day out in the elements while being harassed by local youths and officials.
the police and LASTMA watch as the touts return
Under the condition of anonymity, a few of the drivers revealed that because the government won’t give them legal parking spaces, the road has become their last bus stop.
One of the drivers, who appeared fairly worn out, enquired as to whether or not he believed they were content to work in the circumstances they found themselves in.
The driver said: “Do you think that we are happy to work under this harsh condition without taking our bath for days and with harassment from area boys, Lagos State Transport Management Agency, LASTMA, Police and other security agencies?”
He bemoaned that although it had been their desire for the traffic to flow, the people in charge had refused to take any action.
The driver questioned, “Why have they refused to do something about the harassment and extortion by the various security agencies and area boys?”
When the reporter pressed the young driver to explain what they expected from the government, he responded, “You should ask the Nigeria Ports Authority, LASTMA, Police, and area boys why the traffic is not flowing.
“They know why they are making everything difficult for us so that they can make more money daily.”
Lagos calls a gathering of stakeholders
To alleviate the ongoing traffic jams along the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, particularly at the Mile-2 axis of the state, the Lagos State Government has called a stakeholders’ meeting with port operators for tomorrow.
Leaders of the Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN), the Lagos State Transport Management Authority (LASTMA), the Nigerian Police, the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), the Petroleum Tanker Drivers Association (PTDA), the Nigerian Navy, and the Army are among the stakeholders.
The Apapa bottleneck and other security risks inside the axis were caused by the blocking of main roadways in the area by tankers and containerized vehicles, and the Lagos State government had earlier reconstituted the Joint Security Task Force to address these issues.
Due to the failure of the prior call-up system and port operations, the bottleneck at Apapa has gotten worse over the past three weeks.
State government won’t tolerate lawlessness
Sola Giwa, the governor’s special adviser on transportation, said the state was concerned about the growth along Mile-2 and the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway and would not hesitate to deploy the heavy stick if the unions refused to maintain calm and abide by the law.
Giwa said: “Enough is enough. The state government will not tolerate needless lawlessness in the state. As part of efforts to return peace to the area, the Lagos State Government has summoned stakeholders to a meeting on Thursday, September 28, 2023, to restore permanent sanity to the area.
“I can assure you that critical decisions would be made to ensure that normalcy returns and sustained in the area in line with Governor Sanwo-Olu’s directive and commitment to restoring sanity in Apapa.”
Residents insist on total enforcement
While this is going on, some locals and stakeholders in the axis have raised concern over the chaotic traffic on the road, stating that the regulation needs to be strictly enforced and monitored.
Tosin Mogbadunade said: “I am an entrepreneur and I come to Apapa. I frequent the road. Decades ago, it was a commercial centre but many businesses have packed out, shut down, or relocated. My parents moved out of Apapa, Area B axis. There should be transport policies put over there and systems that work like Area B, here.
“If I were the government, I would look for the team that worked here and put them over there (Mile-2). Consult and assign them to formulate policies. Empower them with resources. We can start from Oshodi to create parks where trailers/trucks can go there and not stay on the road.
“Apapa doesn’t exist in isolation. So if we are to enjoy these results in Apapa, we have to extend it to the entire environment.”
Seyi Akinboboye, the secretary of the Apapa Club, also referred to the traffic in Apapa as a “living hell.”
Akinboboye said: “To enter Apapa from Carter Bridge into Apapa, it takes you up to four, five hours driving in. It was a nightmare but the task force brought sanity into the whole thing.
“However, we need the local government to come in and fix those bad roads because it creates a bottleneck entering Apapa.
Additionally, Dambaga Gawuna, a councilor for Ward B in Apapa Local Government Area, stated: “What we need on this road is coordination and serious monitoring. This means like 6:00 am – 6:00 pm.
“The Lagos State government should use the media to sensitize the people, especially truck owners, and the port users too, that things have changed. There is a need for publicity.”