Apapa Gridlock: Truckers demand extension of deadline for Presidential task team


…As LASTMA impounds over 120 trucks

As the two weeks deadline given to the Presidential task team on decongestion of Apapa traffic expires today, truckers operating in the Nigerian maritime industry have called on the federal government to extend the deadline to enable the team conclude its assignment effectively.

The Coordinator of the Council of Maritime Truck Unions and Associations (COMTUA), Mr. Stephen Okafor who made the call yesterday in Apapa, Lagos after a media tour of the port access roads by the team, stated that the call became necessary following the level of success achieved by the team in less than two weeks of its operation which according to him is unprecedented.

Okafor recalled that they were pained hence the reason they petitioned the federal government against the activities of the former task force headed by the officials of the Nigerian Navy as a result of huge extortion.

He expressed his happiness that the government involved the truckers’ unions in the exercise which he said had never happened before.

In his words,” So, we are glad and we continue to give government the kudos and because of that, we are one hundred percent in support of the exercise and we will continue to support it until it achieve its goal and I want to say here that any person saying that he is representing truckers in any union saying what is contrary to what is happening here, the Police should apprehend that person.

“That is our own advice because since the inception of this committee, no union member, no trucker has complained of any extortion. So, we are now fully relaxing and resting in our businesses. So, I want to thank this team and I want to thank the federal government for this idea and we want to request that the tenure of this task team be extended to be able to completely sanitize the system”.

On his part, the Chairman, Amalgamation of Container Truck Owners, Mr. Thompson Olaleye thanked the federal government for coming up with the exercise even as he pleaded with the federal government to extend the deadline given to the team arguing that without that, they would go back to where they were.

He said,” We have been suffering for a very long time, our business is dying slowly but we thank God after all the efforts and everything, government has actually come to our rescue today, we give kudos to this team. We cannot compare what you have achieved in less than two weeks to what other people before you have achieved; in fact, there was no achievement in the last few years.

“So, we will plead with the federal government to extend their tenure, it is important because without that, we will go back to where we were. We need to stabilize and sustain what they have achieved. So, government should help us and make sure that they extend their tenure until when things are normal”.

On its part, the Lagos State Traffic Management Agency (LASTMA) said that it has apprehended over one hundred and twenty (120) trucks which failed to comply with their directive within the last two weeks of the decongestion exercise.

The General Manager of LASTMA, Wale Musa informed that the number of trucks so impounded would have been higher but for their resolve not to carry out full enforcement of the directive.

While attributing the major successes recorded during the exercise to the efforts of the truckers’ Union who worked with them, he said,” But the Union has been very helpful and compliant and we just urge the unions to tell their members not to test our will. We are on ground, we are ready, you might not see us but we are active because most of the times, we work in the night when nobody knows we are working but we are on ground and ready for the challenge, our boys are on ground and ready to do the job”.

Also speaking, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) called on the port users and residents of Apapa to share in their optimism that the traffic situation in Apapa would soon be a thing of the past assuring that they were going to free not only the Apapa residents the Nigerian economy from what it had been.

He disclosed that the federal government had marshaled out short, medium and long term plans towards solving the Apapa traffic situation noting that by the time all these plans were put together, stakeholders would heave a sigh of relieve.

“People have made extreme sacrifices, institutions, the federal government; we have to thank them for bringing out this. The Lagos state government particularly is worthy of commendation, the Nigerian Ports Authority, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council and the Apapa Local Government, the truckers Unions and the drivers, Nigeria Police, LASTMA and many other agencies that have contributed to establishing a system, because that is what we are doing, we are building a system. We just want to appeal that there will be more discipline and by the evidence we have gathered so far, most of the things are fading away.

“We see flow of traffic in Apapa, containers being dropped and picked, a call up system we operate no matter how manual it is and the government in the long term will not depend on the road system as the only way of evacuating cargo from the port. The federal government is in fact linking all ports including Tincan, Apapa and of course the dry ports to rail and we also hope the inland waterways will carry off these cargoes and in no time you will have movement of cargoes”, he stated.

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