In the light of the twin explosions that rocked Creek Road in Apapa, Lagos State, the Nigerian Navy (NN) yesterday lamented that the traffic gridlock in Apapa had created security problems for security agencies.
The Flag Officer Commanding (FOC), Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Ilesanmi Alade, made the disclosure during a media chat to intimate the public of the 24-hour daily operation of the command to decongest the area and ensure people are not sitting ducks for acts of terror.
The command had last week Thursday launched Operation Gbale, a Yoruba word for sweeping, in order to ensure that the traffic gridlock that has kept Apapa on lockdown for weeks is ameliorated and a lasting solution proffered.
Deploying the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Beecroft and Wey, led by Beecroft Commanding Officer, Commodore Ovenseri Uwadiae, to the flash points, the naval personnel soon set about wiping recalcitrant tanker drivers to shape without excessive use of force.
Already, personnel of the service are at Mile 2 area, Berger up to Tin-Can Island area, Ijora, Liverpool, Marine Beach and all the adjourning roads leading to Apapa.
Alade had also, with the support of the air wing of the NN, flown across Apapa and its environs to feed the ground personnel with aerial photographs and videos of the various traffic situations in various areas, which helped the personnel in taking proactive decisions in decongesting the area.
He said: “The Apapa gridlock has affected a lot of businesses and also created security problems in this particular area and we are most concerned giving the security situation in the country.
“It was considered a serious problem and that was why the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Jibrin Usman, directed us to take necessary measures immediately to allow the free flow of traffic and allow legitimate businesses to thrive.
“Before carrying out the operation, we contacted other security agencies and other stakeholders like the Lagos State Government, police, Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and Lagos State Traffic Management Agency (LASTMA).
“An operation code-named Operation Gbale was instituted on July 10 by 10.21p.m. to address the situation and I am glad to report that so far, some decorum has returned to Apapa and motorists can now move around freely and this was attested to by the state Governor, Babatunde Fashola.
“We might not be there forever, but we are already inculcating the real sense of responsibility in the tanker drivers so that they can begin to do things the right way so that even when we withdraw our men, sanity will reign supreme.
“Since we began our operations and free flow of traffic ensued, the tanker drivers are now better for it as they are also enjoying the dividends of free roads, thereby ensuring they pick up cargoes on time and leave the ports.”
Also speaking, Uwadiae who manned the operation alongside the base’s Executive and Information Officers, Captain J.N. Mamman and Sub Lieutenant P.E. Iyoriovbe respectively, while recounting the success of the operation so far, said the areas were segmented into eight section with Marine Beach and Ijora to Orile Iganmu as flash-points one and two respectively.
Other sections are Apapa Wharf, Liverpool, Tin-Can Island area, Ibafo (Coconut axis), Berger to Kirikiri and then Mile 2 axis which are flash-points three, four, five, six, seven and eight respectively.
He said: “Following the directive of the FOC, 120 personnel were moved and deployed to the various locations for the 24-hour daily operation. Tankers and trucks with cargoes were arranged accordingly while those without who had no business in those areas were turned back.
“We discovered that some drivers just parked their trucks there and left for Ibadan but when we started towing the vehicles off the road, other tanker drivers called their colleagues to come back and drive off before their vehicles are towed too.
“Another critical challenge that has increased the gridlock is those driving against traffic. When we started the operation, we arrested some of them and handed them over to the police while we delayed some and lectured them on the ills their actions cause other road users.
“We must continue to show presence in Apapa and its environs until the situation returns to normal as we are also educating them to be responsible by the time we withdraw our men.”