In the heart of Lagos, Nigeria, lies the infamous Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, a stretch of road that has become synonymous with gridlock and frustration for both residents and motorists alike. This arterial road, critical for the transportation of goods and people to and from the Apapa port, has long been plagued by a seemingly never-ending traffic nightmare. In this article, we delve into the root causes of this persistent issue, the various actors contributing to the chaos, and the desperate plea for solutions.
The 6-Hour Standstill
Picture this: You are a commuter or a truck driver navigating the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway. You’ve already spent hours on the road, inching forward at a snail’s pace, and there’s no end in sight. The sun is scorching, the frustration is mounting, and your patience is wearing thin. This scenario has become an all-too-familiar reality for countless individuals who rely on this critical route.
Last week, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu issued a directive to the Lagos State Special Committee on Apapa Traffic, setting a seemingly ambitious goal of clearing the trucks on the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway within 24 hours. However, as the days passed, it became evident that this challenge was far from resolved. In fact, the gridlock worsened, and on a particularly grueling day, motorists found themselves stuck in traffic for over six agonizing hours.
The Culprits Behind the Chaos
To understand the root causes of this gridlock, we must first examine the various actors contributing to the chaos.
1. The Corrupt Security Agents
One of the prominent factors exacerbating the problem is the alleged corruption within the ranks of the police force stationed along the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway. Some police officers have reportedly spent over a decade patrolling this road, and it is claimed that some of them engage in daily contribution schemes, where they collect substantial sums from truck drivers. Such practices create a vested interest in the perpetuation of the gridlock.
2. The Oduduwa Boys
Adding fuel to the fire are the so-called “Oduduwa Boys,” a group of urchins known for their involvement in extortion and harassment of truck drivers. These individuals are accused of either collaborating with the police or operating independently, all while collecting money from the beleaguered drivers. Their brazen behavior stems from a belief that they are immune to repercussions due to their perceived influence.
3. The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA)
The NPA, a crucial stakeholder in the logistics chain, also plays a role in this gridlock saga. According to a source within the NPA, the current gridlock along the Mile 2-Tin Can axis is primarily caused by tankers that have effectively taken over the main carriage way. This obstruction results in bunching and prevents many port-bound trucks from accessing the port. The refusal of these tankers to adhere to the E-call up system further compounds the problem.
4. The Truckers’ Perspective
Truckers, organized under the banner of the Amalgamation of Container Truck Owners Association of Nigeria (ACTOAN), have a different perspective on the issue. They attribute the gridlock to the non-commissioning of the completed construction work on the Tin Can Island/Oshodi Expressway. The call-up system, known as “ETO,” is seen as ineffective, and they argue that the government must officially commission the road to incentivize truck drivers to leave.
The gridlock on the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway is not just a local nuisance; it has far-reaching implications for commerce, security, and the overall quality of life in Lagos. It is crucial to explore potential solutions to this entrenched problem.
1. Comprehensive Stakeholder Collaboration
One proposed solution is the constitution of a team comprising all relevant stakeholders, including security agencies, trucking unions, and government agencies. This team should not be stationary but mobile, actively patrolling the affected areas to prevent compromise and enforce compliance with regulations.
2. Inclusivity in E-call Up System
To address truckers’ concerns, there should be a concerted effort to involve all relevant unions in the E-call up system discussions. This inclusivity ensures that the system aligns with the needs and realities faced by truck owners and drivers.
3. Swift Government Intervention
Residents and motorists along the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway have borne the brunt of this gridlock for far too long. They are calling on Governor Sanwo-Olu and the new Commissioner for Transportation, Mr. Seun Osiyemi, to swiftly intervene and deploy a new strategy. The failure of the electronic-call-up system should not be allowed to persist, and a proactive approach is essential to alleviate the suffering of the public.
4. Addressing Security Concerns
The resurgence of traffic gridlock in the area has brought with it an increase in criminal activities, posing a significant threat to the safety of residents and motorists. The government must prioritize security measures to safeguard those affected by this ordeal.
In conclusion, the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway gridlock is a long-standing crisis that requires immediate and concerted efforts from all stakeholders involved. It is imperative that corruption within security agencies, extortion by non-state actors, and logistical challenges are addressed comprehensively. Only through collaborative action and a commitment to finding lasting solutions can we hope to free this vital artery from the clutches of gridlock.