Apapa: Lagos Govt, NPA Traffic Operation Crumbles As Chaos, Extortion Persist
Attempts by the Lagos State government and the Nigeria Ports Authority, NPA, to restore sanity along the Oshodi-Apapa expressway has crumbled, as miscreants and hoodlums extort truckers, thereby subjecting motorists to untold hardships in the axis.
Investigations by Newsmen revealed that the miscreants, who claimed to be working for a labour union, Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, are making returns to the Lagos State Traffic Management Committee, the Police set up by Governor Bababjide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State to restore sanity in Apapa and environs.
The traffic committee is chaired by the governor’s Special Adviser on Transportation, Mr. Oluwatoyin Fayinka, who had repeatedly absolved members of the committee from any connivance with the miscreants.
Sanwo-Olu had, in January 2021, inaugurated a Special Traffic Management and Enforcement Compliance Team to resolve the traffic gridlock in and around Apapa.
The measure, Sanwo-Olu said, became necessary, following intractable gridlock along Oshodi-Apapa expressway and environs.
Members of the team are Fayinka, General Manager, Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA; Jide Oduyoye; Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Central Business Districts, Sola Giwa, and SSA to the Governor on Political Security Intelligence, Ayodeji Laurent.
The team is saddled with the responsibility of ensuring zero tolerance of traffic offenders and a seamless traffic management system, specifically designed to restore sanity in and around Apapa.
It is also to create a cohesive system that would aid the resurgence of business activities and ensure that residents live in a conducive environment devoid of traffic-induced stress.
The team was also mandated to eliminate the issues of corruption and various forms of extortions associated with the previous Federal special task force.
According to the governor, the area of coverage of the team’s operations include Ikorodu Road to Oshodi – Mile 2 – Apapa, Ikorodu Road – Funsho Williams Avenue (Surulere)-Alaka-Iganmu-SIFAX-Ijora 7up-Apapa, Surulere-Alaka-Eko Bridge-Ijora Olopa-Ijora 7up- Apapa.
Meanwhile, the chaotic situation on the expressway has continued unabated as the weapon wielding miscreants, yesterday, blocked the middle of the highway at several checkpoints to extort truckers in broad daylight.
Apparently, their activities led to congestion on the road from Fatgbems Filling Station to the Berger Yard area, leaving no alternative lane for other motorists to ply.
The banned commercial motorcyclists, popularly called Okada riders, also occupied the already congested road to pick stranded commuters to their destinations.
In an apparent failure of the system, despite assurances of the Lagos State government and the NPA, some of the miscreants involved in the illegal collection of toll at the Mile-2, inward Tin-Can Port end of the road, have said that such collections cannot stop because “some persons at the top are benefitting from it.”
Newsmen gathered that high levels of extortion by officials of the Nigeria Police Force, and other agencies from truck/tank drivers union members and ‘area boys’ are making traffic control difficult.
Newsmen also observed one of the illegal toll collectors, who identified himself as Lekan, issuing out a threat to a truck driver who resisted payment.
The toll collector threatened to damage the truck if he refused to comply.
According to Lekan, they (miscreants) are untouchable, as some persons in government are giving them back-up and protection.
Checks by Newsmen also revealed that after collection of illegal tolls from the truckers, they are allowed to drive unhindered from Mile-2 to Tin-Can unhindered.
As a result, truck and tanker drivers have turned the stretch of the road from under the bridge inward Tin-Can to the parking lot, until they are called into the ports or the various tank farms along the area.
Investigation revealed that there are about four unofficial extortion points still existing, despite public outcry from Mile-2 to Under Bridge, with truckers spending between N5,000 to N10,000 at each extortion point.
At the Otto Wharf bus stop, where a terminal owned by Ports and Terminal Mul-Services Nigeria Limited operates, there are multiple collection points from truck drivers, vehicles released from the terminal, vehicles that want to make a U-turn to Mile-2 inward Oshodi.
The bus stop is controlled mostly by hoodlums, who collect about N1,000 from every vehicle coming from the terminal before being allowed to make the U-turn.
Meanwhile, motorists and residents have called on Governor Sanwo-Olu to wake up and order full investigations into the alleged extortions, with a view to unravel those behind the cartel and culprits be brought to book as deterrence to others.