The Lagos State Government has attributed the perennial traffic jam at the Apapa end of the Apapa-Oshodi expressway to the recalcitrance of owners and drivers of tankers and trucks to fully comply with the subsisting directive that restricts their movement within the state.
In a statement issued Thursday by Kehinde Bamigbetan, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, the state government said the current situation had been further worsened by the ongoing industrial action by a section of workers at the ports; which, according to him, has slowed down the pace of goods clearance and repair works on the roads leading to the ports.
Mr Bamigbbetan expressed deep sympathies with commuters and residents of Apapa and other parts of Lagos affected by the congestion created by the trucks and articulated vehicles along the Apapa vehicular corridor.
He said to ameliorate the situation, the government had directed the police and the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) to flood the affected areas with sufficient officers to further control traffic and bring sanity to bear "on this hectic situation so as to bring immediate succour to our people."
The statement further said the state government would urge the Federal Ministry of Works, Power and Housing to consider shifting the proposed closure dates for the Third Mainland Bridge to a later date to avoid compounding the situation.
This is because Ikorodu Road and adjoining roads would not be adequate to cope if Third Mainland Bridge is shut for repairs at a time that Apapa-Oshodi express road and others leading in and out of the ports are experiencing an unusual, albeit, temporary traffic snarl.
"It is indeed pathetic that private firms seeking to make profit from legitimate commerce would continue to subject the citizens of Lagos State to horrendous pains in spite of the provision of holding bays for their trucks and tankers until it is their turn to pick goods at the ports," it stated.
The statement added that the recent rehabilitation of the truck park at Orile Iganmu, with a capacity to take 3,000 trucks shows the commitment of the Akinwunmi Ambode administration to find a lasting solution to the enormous challenge posed by the indiscriminate use of the highways by articulated vehicles.
According to the commissioner, government had hoped that, with the unfortunate loss of lives and property to destruction caused by tanker explosions and truck mishaps, the conscience of the haulage stakeholders would be pricked enough to save Lagosians from the threat of carnage on the highways by adhering to directives and also investing in truck terminals themselves.
He however assured that the state government would not allow its highways turned to death traps while urging speedy delivery of the roads under reconstruction within the axis and full computerisation of the port's operations in order to save the state from this incessant but avoidable hardship.
"If the powers of the state is inadequate to force these powerful merchants to obey the law, shall we also say that the federal government with all the forces at its command is unable to protect residents of Lagos against this common threat?"
The statement noted that while President Muhammadu Buhari had assured Lagos State that the federal government would tackle this matter decisively, the latest hardship makes the much-needed intervention extremely imperative.
The commissioner expressed regrets that ongoing rehabilitation of roads in Apapa and its environs and the efforts towards sanitising truck entry procedures have pushed the trucks to other parts of the city all because the haulage operators have continued to illegally turn major roads to parks thereby using public facilities to increase their private profit.
"We therefore once again call on the federal government to save Lagosians by assisting to enforce the rule that all haulage operators must have designated parks immediately, while we continue to solicit the understanding and cooperation of the general public."