After a week-long outright blockage of all access roads to Apapa and intractable gridlock resulting from it, the Lagos State Government yesterday ordered all trailers, trucks and oil tankers to stay off all roads within the state immediately.
Consequently, the state government directed the operatives of the State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), Rapid Response Squad (RRS) and the State Taskforce on Environmental and Special Offences (Enforcement) Unit among others to deny all articulated vehicles access to the state.
The directive was issued at an inter-ministerial news conference at the Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre, Alausa yesterday, lamenting implication of the gridlock for state's economy and health of the residents.
The conference was addressed by the Commissioner for Information & Strategy, Mr. Steve Ayorinde; the General Manager of Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), Mr. Adesina Tiamiyu and President of the Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMARTO), Mr. Remi Ogungbemi among others.
In the last fortnight, more than 2,000 trailers, trucks and oil tankers had massively flooded Ikorodu Road all through to Apapa in bid to get into the Port and tank farms to convey commodities to their various destinations.
The influx of articulated vehicles had culminated in intractably protracted gridlock that shut down Ikorodu Road and subjected residents and motorists to undue hardship on the roads before getting to their destinations.
By implication, the state government convoked the news conference where it directed all trailers, trucks and oil tankers "to stay off all Lagos roads for now as a result of massive gridlock on Ikorodu road leading to Apapa."
At the news conference, Elegushi identified the breakdown of operations at the ports as the roots cause of the gridlock.
The commissioner, equally, lamented that the situation had become so terrible that the state government must take drastic steps to remedy the situation, which has seen the gridlock extending from Apapa to Ojuelegba.
"The port operators must solve the problem immediately so that Lagos residents and motorists would enjoy some respite. We appeal to owners of articulated trailers and tankers to stay away from Lagos for now until we resolve the problem."
Elegushi added that officers of LASTMA and RRS had been mobilised "to prevent all trailers, trucks and oil tankers from gaining access to Lagos for now. All articulated vehicles should stay at Ogere and other areas pending the resolution of the gridlock in the state."
He, therefore, appealed to all motorists and road users in the state "to seek alternative routes for now until the challenge of Apapa's gridlock is resolved."
Also, at the conference, Ayorinde said: "More than 2,000 trucks are currently struggling to gain access into the port. As responsive government, we cannot allow these pains to continue. We are taking steps to mitigate the problem to ensure that Lagos residents are not subjected to these avoidable pains and sufferings."
Tiamiyu lamented the consequence of the gridlock, noting that the traffic situation in Apapa had been very tough in the recent times.
"If there is an explosion in the area today, it will be grave because there is no access to Apapa," Tiamiyu said.
He said the agency had sent drones "to monitor the situation in Apapa for proper government intervention, while urging Lagos residents to report any untoward situation to the agency through the dedicated 767 emergency line.
"The state government is on top of the situation. We will enforce the law to ensure that Lagos is not shutdown," he said, adding that "this is a challenging time, we have declared emergency around that area."
Giving a stakeholder's perspective, Ogungbemi said the situation in Apapa represented a time bomb that could explode anytime, saying that no amount of money was too much "to ensure safety of lives and properties.
"The situation is a time bomb that can explode. The federal government should collaborate with the state so that the problem will be over; we don't want to wait until it happens before they start sending relief materials. We are ready to give necessary support until sanity returns to Apapa."