Why trucks are still on Wharf Road two weeks after Presidential order – Opeifa


The Executive Vice Chairman of the Presidential Task Team on Decongestion of Apapa traffic, Mr. Kayode Opeifa has explained the presence of trucks on Wharf road and other adjourning roads within Apapa despite a Presidential directive ordering evacuation of all trucks and tankers from the port access roads and bridges within two weeks.

Speaking to journalists shortly after the media tour of the port access roads by the team on Friday, Opeifa stated that one may still find trucks from the Marine Bridge descent to the port, on the Wharf Road because that road is port access road.

While acknowledging that the ideal thing was not to allow any truck on that road, he however said that for the period, they were pushing trucks faster so that Lillypond truck park did not go out of capacity saying that if they don’t push those trucks out, the truck park would get out of capacity and no new truck would be able to enter there.

According to him,” These are some of our effective traffic management direction. So, the trucks you see there, some of them are going to Tincan port, some of them are going to Apapa port. Those going to the Apapa port will use Creek road axis and Creek road is under construction just to make things better. Creek road to Tincan port is also under construction but the trucks are finding their way.

“The Tincan port for now is handling about one thousand empty containers and they told us they can’t stress themselves beyond that limit. But beyond those two ports, we also have other port terminals who are handling other goods. The trucks that you are seeing more on the road are the empty containers return trucks and one of our terms of reference is to work with NPA to develop an empty container return handling policy and when we are through with this place, we are meeting with NPA to finalize our experiences and what that handling policy will be.

“The major reason the truckers are still there on the road is that the freight forwarders give the business to the fleet operators, the fleet operators put it on their trucks driven by the drivers, the drivers and everybody is running to beat demurrage. The people who collect the demurrage are the shipping companies and the Shippers’ Council, the Nigerian Ports Authority and the Office of the Vice President are working on that to make sure that demurrage regime is such that will not put the operators under pressure to the extent that they are rushing on the road”.

He however disclosed that the team had been able to completely take away trailers and trucks from Ijora-Olopa to Point road as well as successfully remove stationary trailers and containers from that point up to the Marine Bridge, at about a descent to Lillypond adding that from their calculations, that was about a kilometer from the port entrance even as he believed that pending the full operation of Tincan Truck Park A, that was how far they were able to go.

“Our assignment is predicated upon the fact that truck Park A will be available, trailer park B, C, D and E would have been have been cleared by Lagos State government for us but they are still not fully available. It is a work in progress because it takes a lot of stakeholders’ engagement for us to clean it. We don’t want to displace anybody from his normal means of livelihood.

“Our two weeks will come to fruition tomorrow, Saturday (that is today), for this axis, that is Eric Moore, Eko Bridge, Funsho Williams down to Eko Bridge up to Ijora-Olopa and Ijora Seven Up, we have achieved one hundred percent compliance on what we are expected to deliver in terms of extortions, in terms of truck removal from the bridge, in terms of deploying an effective traffic management plan, in terms of giving an efficient traffic management direction, in terms of deploying the appropriate call up system, it is predicated upon the availability and full operation of Lillypond truck terminal.

“Lillypond truck terminal is available for us now courtesy of NPA and it is going to be the point for the call up implementation. However, we have not been able to operate 24 hours from Lillypond for now because they are still fixing the flood security lights. As soon as that is completed, we will be able to operate 24 hours and this is just a matter of days and NPA is working on that. From the top of Marine Bridge, empty containers are now passed through to go down to enter Lillypond from where they come out. The best we have had now is trucks of June 1 are the ones leaving Lillypond as of today and that we cannot do much about it because it depends on how much of those trucks the port can receive because the port has about four terminal and only one, AP Moller is taking empty containers and we are told their maximum is three hundred or so per day.

“Now, if there is truck park to serve, trucks can stay in truck parks, alternatively, they stay where they are staying and come when it is their time but we have identified some parks around here which we called them approved parks where they can go and stay and I think they charge them like one thousand naira a day, the maximum is three thousand naira the very first day you come and subsequent days is one thousand. That is better than the extortion they claim or they seem to have been going through and if at all they spend six days in that place, at least, they have all the facilities to use, it is like they park their trucks for a fee now, from there they move.

“So, it is a holistic approach, the Federal Ministry of Works is working on the trailer park. The Lagos State government has graciously released the full potentials of LASTMA backed by an Executive Order by the Governor, the governor himself has visited Apapa, that was why you see the acting Commissioner for Transportation, you see the GM LASTMA, you see the Director of Operation LASTMA, you see a lot of LASTMA officials all here, those three people I mentioned are members of the Task Team just to make sure things work. The Lagos State government through the Governor also released the task force to support us and we have cleared all the under bridge of trucks and Lagos state government is going to ensure that those places are restored”, he explained.

Opeifa who is also the former Commissioner for Information, Lagos State posited that when sanity, law and order is restored, the environment would translate to the driver and to the operators and people would do business in Apapa in an easy way noting that all these were captured under the ease of doing business.

“We want people; the truckers, the residents, the petrol tankers, the gas carriers, the Shippers’ Council, the NPA, the port handlers, the freight forwarders, every stakeholder involved to be able to come to Apapa, do their business without stress and go. The residents, the realtors, the estate people, the hoteliers, the Shoprite and all those who have business in Apapa to be able to run their business and make good returns on investment and me and you who are not residents of Apapa should not be carrying burden of expenses that is unnecessary.

“I want to close by saying we once had ‘Wharf Rats’, they used to be a problem in the port, Nigerian government has solved that, how come we will not solve this one? We want to solve it in a way that the truckers must be happy, the container fleet operators must happy, licensed customs agent must be happy and our agencies; NPA, Shippers’ Council, LASTMA, Police and all other agencies of government including customs have been working to make sure that they make it easier for people in Apapa”, he added.

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