By Emmanuel Edom
Sequel to the activities of the petroleum tankers and haulage trucks drivers, along the Funsho Williams Avenue and Oshodi/Apapa Expressway and other major roads in Lagos, which have continued to cause a perennial gridlock on the affected roads and constitute embarrassment to the state and Federal Governments, the Lagos State police command at the weekend embarked on multi-agency operation tagged ‘Operation Restore Sanity on Lagos Roads’ to check the tide.
The command in conjunction with other security agencies had embarked on series of consultations with the stakeholders in order to find a lasting solution to the problem and its attendant consequences on the law-abiding citizens plying the routes.
Shedding light into the operation that has reduced the traffic gridlock to an appreciable level on those routes, Lagos State police boss, Imohimi Edgal noted that the ‘Service lane was now free for smaller vehicles’ following a partnership with Planet Projects construction company who aided the police in blocking the truck drivers from plying the service lanes.
According to Edgal, “I wish to inform the general public on the Operation Restore Sanity on Lagos Roads, particularly, Oshodi/Apapa Expressway, Funsho Williams Avenue and Mile 2/Orile Road, carried out by the Lagos State Police Command in conjunction with other stakeholders.
“Sequel to the activities of the petroleum tankers and haulage trucks drivers, along the Funsho Williams Avenue and Oshodi/Apapa Expressway, which have continued to cause a perennial gridlock on the affected roads and constitute a serious embarrassment to the State and Federal Governments, the Command embarked on series of consultations with the Stakeholders in order to find a lasting solution to the problem and its attendant consequences on the law abiding citizens plying the routes.
“On 18/07/2018 the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Police Command, Ikeja held a meeting with the Heads of the Nigerian Army (NA), Nigerian Navy (NN), Nigeria Air Force (NAF), Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) in the State, to appraise the worsening traffic gridlock in the affected roads, which are to serve as alternative routes, during the closure of the 3rd Mainland Bridge for repairs and to strategise on the containment measures to be adopted, to curtail the menace of the recalcitrant tankers and trucks drivers .
This was followed by an on-the-spot visit to the locations to assess the situation and identify both private/government unoccupied Holding Bays where the articulated vehicles blocking the expressway could be temporarily relocated”.
The Holding Bays are Lilly pond, Ijora-Badia for some containers, while a vacant space opposite Coker Bus/stop owned by Mitchel bonded terminal.
Sapid along Apapa/Oshodi expressway are also holding some containers. MRS loading bay, at Toyota Bus Stop is also holding some petroleum tankers, while Capital Oil Truck holding bay at 2nd Rainbow, Ijesha is also holding some petroleum tankers.
The vacant parking lot opposite 2nd gate in Tin Can Island is also holding some containers.
To ensure that all stakeholders in the nation’s seaports and Lagos State government were carried along in the exercise, an expanded meeting was held on Friday at the Lagos State police command headquarters.
“The meeting which was chaired by the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, Ikeja was attended by the Service Commanders, the General Managers of LASTMA and LASEMA, the Chairman of Amalgamation of Containers Truck Drivers, Nigeria Association of Road Transport Owners (NATO), National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas (NUPENG) and Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) in the State.
During the meeting, the Stakeholders resolved to contribute manpower for the exercise as indicated below”; a police officer told The Lead.
After the meeting, security agents were deployed to tackle the menace. Amongst those deployed were 1000 policemen, 150 personnel of the Army, 100 naval personnel, 100 Air Force personnel, 100 officers of the Security and Civil Defence and 120 operatives of the Federal Road Safety Corp.
Others are 500 officials of the Lagos State Traffic management Authority (LASTMA), 20 officials of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), 46 members of Amalgamation of Containers Truck Drivers, 50 members of Nigeria Association of Road Transport Owners (NATO) 50 personnel of NUPENG and 35 members of Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN).
“Thereafter, a letter was written to the owners/operators of the identified vacant trailers/trucks parks, to solicit for their consent to temporarily use their facilities to relocate the articulated vehicles in the interest of the public.
“Owing to the concern of the Federal Government to end the lingering crisis, the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, (SAN), accompanied by the Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi visited Lagos State on 20/07/2018.
The Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Police Command, Ikeja, led other service commanders to conduct His Excellency round the Apapa/Oshodi Expressway by Chopper for the assessment of the menace of the drivers along the axis.
Also, the Commissioner of Police used the occasion, to brief His Excellency on the efforts being made by the Command and other Stakeholders to resolve the problem. At the end of the visit, the Vice President directed the Commissioner of Police to clear the gridlock within 72 hours.
“Personnel for the operations were mustered at the State Headquarters, Ikeja on Saturday where they were addressed by the Commissioner of Police.
“This was followed by their deployment to the locations for the evacuation of the over 20,000 petroleum tankers and flat belt trucks causing gridlock from the service lanes and expressway to the six (6) holding bays at Ijora, Isolo, Amuwo Odofin, Orile and Apapa.
“One Goliath each was deployed to Lilly Pond in Ijora and Capital Oil bay at Amuwo Odofin respectively for the lifting of containers arrangement of same. The Commissioner of Police and other officers were on ground monitoring the operations which have recorded an appreciable level of success,” he said.
“However, it is pertinent to inform the public that lack of equipment, particularly, Goliaths and Heavy Towing Van to lift the containers at the bays and tow some of the grounded vehicles away from the road has slowed down the operation.
“Other noticeable constraints are non-cooperative attitude of some of the drivers, who thought government might use the opportunity to impound their vehicles, despite assurance from their Union leaders and other stakeholders.
“Lack of cooperation by facility owners/operators who complained of late notification. Nonetheless, it is gratifying to note that the Lagos State Government has signified intention to engage the facility owners/operators to enable them reach a common ground to resolve the matter.
“In the same vein, the Command in conjunction with the Union leaders will continue to engage the cynical drivers to key into the operation in the interest of the public. Meanwhile, the exercise has been extended by 48 hours.” Edgal said.