Lagos — As the traffic gridlock created by trucks and articulated vehicles on the Apapa-Oshodi and Apapa-Ijora-Ikorodu road corridors worsens, the state police command, the Nigerian Army, transport agencies and Lagos task force officials held an emergency meeting yesterday to find a lasting solution to the problem.
At the meeting, 'Operation Restore Sanity' was launched to combat the traffic logjam, which the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Imohimi Edgal, described as a national disaster.
Traffic flow in the two corridors leading to the Apapa port has been hellish since last year when A-G Dangote began a major reconstruction of the access road to the Apapa port from the Ijora end in July 2017.
The road had decayed extensively before the N4.3bn reconstruction intervention, which is being undertaken by the Dangote Group, Flour Mills Plc and the Nigerian Ports Authority. Even before the intervention, the access road had become so inaccessible that the President of the Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, estimated that about N20bn was being lost daily to the snarl.
Edgal said "This is why we have sat together with relevant agencies to launch 'Operation Restore Sanity on Lagos Roads', which will kick off on Friday by midnight."
By the operation, the police will be deploying 1000 policemen to move trucks and containers from bridges and roads to designated locations to ease traffic.
He said, "Between now and Monday, there will be free movement of motorists and the people will have easy access to their works and homes. On Monday, we will go to another level of engagement with relevant authorities so that we don't have a repeat."
He appealed to maritime workers to shelve their strike following their differences with the union and employ dialogue so that people in the Lagos metropolis can move freely.
Also in attendance at the meeting were representatives of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, which volunteered 50 men; National Association of Road Transport Owners, which volunteered 50 men and truck owners, who as well volunteered 50 men to join the task force for the operation.
The Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps also volunteered 100 men, Federal Road Safety Commission, 120 men; LASTMA, 500 men; the Nigerian Army, 250 and 200 from the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency.
In a statement yesterday on the issue, the Lagos State government expressed its sadness over the difficulties faced by motorists and commuters who use the routes to get to their destinations.
The government also expressed its sympathy for residents of Apapa and other parts of Lagos affected by the lingering logjam.
The state's Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Kehinde Bamigbetan, the government blamed the renewed congestion on the "recalcitrance of owners and drivers of tankers and trucks to fully comply with the subsisting directive that restricts their movement within the state."
The government also attributed the worsened situation to the ongoing industrial action by a section of workers at the Apapa port, which it said had slowed down the pace of goods clearance, as well as to the slow pace of repair works on federal roads leading to the ports.
The statement 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.