Motorists, especially port users, have been having a nice time plying the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway and other roads leading to the port city of Apapa, Lagos, hosting two of the nation’s busiest ports, the Lagos Port Complex (LPC) and the Tin-Can Island Port Complex (TCIPC).Thanks to the Federal Government, through the Ports Reform Monitoring Committee, and the Lagos State Government.
Before the evacuation of parked haulage vehicles by their owners from the Lagos ports access roads, notably the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, the duo of the Ports Reform Monitoring Committee and the Lagos State Government had issued separate ultimatum to the owners via their associations and on the expiration of the ultimatum the vehicles were off the roads.
Several attempts have been made in the past to evacuate the parked trucks from the roads, but none yielded the exemplary result of the present effort.
For once, government exercised the political will to clear these roads. But now that the roads are free, what next is to be done?
There is no doubting the fact that the penchant for road haulage vehicles’ operators to turn the roads to their garages contributed greatly to the former perennial gridlock on the Lagos ports access roads. But they might just be part of the problem.
While government’s effort in clearing the roads is indeed commendable, there is the need for government to look beyond the evacuation of these trucks as well as the rehabilitation of the roads to seeking alternative means to put a final end to the chaotic traffic situation on the Lagos ports access roads.
Stakeholders have often said that the existing infrastructures, including the ports access roads, can no longer accommodate the volume of activities at the seaports. This is not disputable, because the ports as well as the roads were built over 30 years ago.
As at the last population census in 2006, Nigeria’s population was put at 150 million and with the world’s population hitting seven billion on October 31, 2011, the country population was put at 167 million.
Going by these figures, then any discerning mind knows that the volume of international trade may have increased also and there should be corresponding infrastructures in and outside the ports to adequately take care of the increased volume of trade.
Government really needs to also look at the issue of the location of tank farms at Ibafon along the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway. It is sad to note that all the complaints about the traffic situation were thrown at the road haulage vehicles operators, but we forget to ask why these vehicles spend so much time parked on the roads in the Lagos ports axis.
The tankers, for one, are on those roads due to the concentration of tank farms at Ibafon point of the expressway. It somewhat confusing that nobody is talking about this; not even the Lagos State Government or the Ports Reform Monitoring Committee. It is confusing, because, before now, government officials as well as private individuals freely expressed opinions that the tank farms are a major reason for the chaotic traffic situation but with the recent developments everyone seems to have forgotten the ignoble role of these tank farms.
Road users in the Lagos ports axis are happy that the parked trucks are off the roads, but this joy may be short-lived if we do not deal urgently with the other problems by relocating tank farms from the Ibafon, Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, and Creek Road and vastly improving on the existing infrastructures.
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