Fashola: Corruption, NNPC’s negligence fuel Apapa gridlock

Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola has identified large scale corruption among government agencies at the port, poor maintenance of road infrastructure by the federal government and negligence by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) as the causes of the complications in the intractable crises of traffic congestion in Apapa which he said has paralysed businesses and frustrated residents living in Apapa and its environs.

The governor, during his third visit to Apapa in two weeks, on Sunday alongside the state’s Commissioner for Transportation, Kayode Opeifa, and the General Manager of Lagos Traffic Management (LASTMA), Babatunde Edu, among others, attributed part of the problems crippling businesses and residency in Apapa to large scale corruption, which he said, had been rife among the officials of federal government agencies operating in the ports.

While addressing stakeholders including officials of the National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), Fashola said “if NNPC pumps to Mosimi, Ibadan, Ejigbo, Ilorin and other oil depots, Apapa will decongest. So, why are they not doing it?”

He lamented that if the Federal Ministry of Works “comes to take over and repair its roads like Creek Road, Apapa-Oshodi and TinCan Island among others, clearly people living and working in this area will feel some relief”.

“The reality is that once there is congestion in one part, it falls backs and locks everybody in. The problem is not what is in Apapa. It is also about what is on Tin Can Island as well. As a result, people in Lagos, particularly in Apapa, are at the receiving end,” he stated.

He expressed disappointment that the country’s leadership “continues to allow this kind of eyesore in Apapa and its environs.”

“It is just incomprehensible to me. I do not know why a country can treat its commercial capital like this. I never see a country that behaves this way,” the Governor lamented.

He decried diverse atrocious activities in Apapa and its environs, noting that such activities have grave implications for the environment.

“You will see even the bridge coming into Apapa now is threatened. It is just incomprehensible to me,” he said.

“Certainly, somebody in the ports prefers to do checking and clearance at a time at the gate. There are, perhaps, some financial benefits in doing that. There is some corruption suggested in that process. But why will any official not make things efficient except there is a personal benefit attached to it?

“Clearly, this is a government that is losing touch and that is not showing empathy for the pains the people of Lagos are going through under its watch.

“The problem of Apapa is clearly a multi-agency problem. Probably, many agencies of the federal government are not talking to one another or not coordinating.”

He however promised that the state government will not give up in finding lasting solution to the gridlock.

“This is our job. This is why we are in government here. We will continue to bring to their attention the pains they are inflicting on our people here.

“A citizen sent a text last week that the Apapa problems cannot be remedied. I sent a text back to him that it was a problem created by men, and it will also take men and women to solve it. We will not give up, but we will continue… We are working on inner roads. About seven or eight roads are under construction.

“It is now a problem even for Julius Berger, our contractor, to get equipment in to supply materials and construct inner city roads to which we are committed. It is a problem, simply because of the failure of the federal government.”