Fashola visits Apapa again, decries FGs insensitivity print



Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State

Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State

In
a bid to find a lasting solution to the traffic gridlock in Apapa as a
result of fuel and other cargo distribution operations, Lagos State
Governor, Babatunde Fashola, again on Sunday visited the Apapa Port area
to renew his pledge that his administration would neither give up nor
surrender until a solution is found.
Sunday’s visit was the third
in July as the governor pledged to work closely with all the
stakeholders in the distribution of fuel and other cargo at the port in
order to enable residents and those who have businesses in the area to
access their homes and work places on a sustainable basis.
Fielding
questions from newsmen after being briefed by some government
representatives and other haulage business operators at the Apapa Port,
Fashola vowed that in spite of the seeming nonchalance on the part of
the Federal Government which owns the ports, his administration would
continue to engage the problem with other stakeholders while also
seeking the attention of the Federal Government to do what is right.
Describing
the problem as a multi-agency one, the Governor said from the briefings
he received from the state government representatives and other
stakeholders working on the problem, there is apparent lack of
coordination among the many agencies of the Federal Government working
on the distribution of fuel at the Ports.
Fashola said from the
briefings he got from the General Manager of the State Traffic
Management Authority (LASTMA), Mr. Babatunde Edu and the General Manager
(Admin) of the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO),
Mr. Aloga Ogbogo, these agencies lack the required coordination to bring
needed efficiency in the operations of both the tank farm owners and
their tanker drivers, adding that, “As a result, people in Lagos,
especially people in Apapa, are at the receiving end of the very
uncomfortable life they are made to experience getting to their offices,
getting to their homes”.
Decrying the insensitivity of these
Federal Government agencies to the sufferings of Lagosians, especially
those living or doing business in Apapa, Fashola noted, “Clearly you
have heard from those who know the business that if the NNPC, for
example, pumps fuel to Mosinmi and Ibadan this place will decongest; so
why are they not doing that?”
Fashola noted that if the Federal
Ministry of Works would come to takeover and repair the Apapa-Oshodi-Tin
Can Island Road, which is a Federal Government road, clearly people
living in the area would have some relief adding, “The reality is that
once there is congestion in one place, it just locks everybody in”.
He
also drew attention to another lapse where the suggestion to conduct
spot checks on trucks before they go into the ports for loading was
turned down by NPA officials pointing out that it would have been easier
to clear the trucks outside so that they could go in batches of 20 and
the operation would be faster.
“But somebody at the NPA wants to
do it one at a time at the gate and from the briefing we have heard from
some of our representatives here, there are perhaps some benefits in
doing that,” noting that, “there is also some corruption suggested in
process, because why would anybody not want to make something efficient
unless there is a personal benefit?”
The governor said that other
problems that compounded operational problems at the ports included lack
of necessary equipment, adding that, a situation where only two cargo
handling equipment are deployed to about 40 trucks would grossly slow
down the operations.
“The Federal Government should listen and
understand that the concessioning and management of the port requires
much more than just signing an agreement, it also requires people making
investments and government being alive to its responsibilities.”
On
what the state government is doing to assuage the situation, Fashola
said in the meantime about eight inner city roads are under construction
and rehabilitation in the Apapa area expressing regrets, however, that
because of the traffic gridlock, the contractors, Messrs Julius Berger,
has found it difficult to move its equipment to bring materials for the
construction of the roads.
“We are working on some inner roads in
Apapa, about seven or eight roads. But even for Julius Berger, the
contractor, now to bring their equipment in to supply materials to
construct the inner city roads that we are committed to is now a problem
because of the failure of the Federal Government,” he said.
Pointing
out that it is also becoming difficult to even move refuse trucks in
the area. “I don’t know what other country can treat her commercial
capital like this; I don’t know what kind of leadership continues to
allow this kind of eyesore and disgraceful happening,” he lamented.
Restating
his resolve to tackle the problem head on, the governor declared:
“Clearly, this is a government (Federal Government) that is losing
touch, clearly not showing empathy for the pains the people of Lagos are
going through under its watch. But we will continue to bring to their
attention the pains that they are inflicting on our people here and we
won’t give up.”
He recalled a text message sent to him during the
week by a citizen who expressed loss of hope in the possibility of
solving the traffic problem in Apapa adding that in response he told the
man that since the problem was created by men, it would also need the
effort of men and women to solve it.
Fashola who pointed out that
the problem is not just what happens in Apapa but what is in Tincan
Island as well. “You can see that even the bridge coming into Apapa is
now threatened. It is just incomprehensible to me; I have never seen a
country treat its commercial capital like this.”
“But I am here
because we won’t give up. This is our job and this is why we are in
government. So we are not going to give up and we won’t surrender, we
won’t abdicate our responsibility, we will continue to work with the
stakeholders.”
Commissioner for Transportation, Mr. Kayode Opeifa,
told the Governor that the problem in the Apapa area was further
worsened by the state of the roads in the area pointing out that Creek
and Liverpool roads have collapsed making movement of vehicles almost
impossible.
He said the NNPC was yet to comply to an appeal made
at a meeting to suspend pumping fuel to tank farms along Apapa-Oshodi
Expressway in order decongest the trucks in the area adding all the
agencies of the Federal Government working on the distribution of fuel
in Apapa were not cooperating with the State Government and other
stakeholders in seeking solution to the traffic problem.
Also
speaking, General Manager, Operations, of the State’s Traffic Management
Authority, Mr. Babatunde Edu, told the governor that efforts being made
by the authority and other stakeholders at the ports to decongest
traffic were being frustrated by some interests and people who,
according to him “have seen what happens here as means of making money”.
According
to him, if spot check is done on the trucks outside before getting to
the entry gate, it would hasten the operations and reduce congestion.
“But they prefer to do it right at the gate of entry and for about 20
minutes one vehicle will not go in,” he said adding that as a result
although the authority has done a lot to confine the trucks to a lane,
there was always a spillover.
The General Manager (Admin) of the
Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), Aloga Ogbogo, in
his remarks said the major problem has been the collapse of many of the
roads around the ports saying there was need to persuade Julius Berger
to whom the roads have been contracted for rehabilitation to move to
site and repair some of the critical roads.
Saying there has been
some level of compliance in the directive by the governor to restrict
the trucks to one lane, Ogbogo said his association later discovered
that Messrs Dangote company is located at the service lane of the road
and the appeal by the association that the company allow only trucks
listed to load to come in was yet to be abided by.


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