In addition to the poor road conditions and lack of truck holding bays, the nefarious activities of some security officials, especially those of the Nigerian Navy, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Police drafted to control traffic on major roads in Apapa, are responsible for the resurgence of gridlock in the area, according to findings carried out on Thursday.
Investigation revealed that only truck drivers that part with a minimum of N10,000 per truck are allowed access into the port by the security operatives while others are detained on the already choked road.
The gridlock assumed a worrisome dimension on Wednesday morning as traffic on major routes in and out of the port city came to a standstill.
The stretch of traffic extended from the Tin Can Island Port end to Mile 2 with all the lanes on the ever-busy Apapa-Oshodi expressway blocked by trucks and tankers.
The Ijora Wharf end did not fare any better as trucks and tankers occupied a major chunk of the road with the queue stretching to as far as Obanikoro on Ikorodu road. Many motorists had to abandon their vehicles to trek long distances to get to their destinations.
Further findings revealed that the resurgence of the gridlock is not far-fetched as only those who pay certain amount of money were given the right of passage to the port.
A port security officer attached to one of the terminals at the Lagos Port Complex (LPC) Apapa accused security operatives responsible for directing traffic in Apapa of turning the gridlock situation to “big business”.
He said on Tuesday night for instance, only trucks belonging to Flour Mills Nigeria were allowed into the port from midnight until 5am “for reasons best known to them”.
The port security officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal said, “Apart from the bad stretch from the back of Leventis through under Marine Bridge to Ijora ascent that requires urgent palliatives, Police and Naval officials aid certain categories of people to disrupt the flow of outbound traffic.
“On Tuesday night, all outbound traffic was stopped from about 2359 hours till 0515 hours for Flour Mills trucks to drive one-way to their facility.
“The window was used by Flour Mills to exit and take in trucks. Having being kept on hold for more than five hours, the outbound traffic had accumulated and disorganized, with all manners of queues and lanes formed, this coupled with the bad stretch is the immediate cause of the outbound gridlock we have been witnessing.”
Several road users, who expressed frustration at the gridlock, also blamed the traffic control officials for allowing the situation degenerate to the present level.
Oyinlola Bakare, who identified herself as a staff of a shipping agency said, “I have been here at Ijora for more than three hours. I left my house in Surulere since 6am just to get to work before 7am but here I am still stuck between trucks with no hope of any movement.
“The Army, Police and Navy who are working on this road are not helping matters. All they do is collect money from trucks and stop those that cannot pay on the road. That is why everywhere is blocked. Government should help us. This suffering is too much.”
Another road user, Charles Omokaro who also works in Apapa said the immediate remedy to the gridlock is to stop the use of one-way by some truck drivers as it not only confers undue advantage on some truckers, but is also against the traffic law.
“In addition to this, the authorities must call the security officials to order. They should stop collecting money and stop preferential treatment of trucks on the road,” he added.