The Apapa gridlock is a nightmare for both commuters and motorists. It now has a triple effect on business activities in the nation’s commercial capital, Lagos writes correspondent, DAVID OLADIMEJI.
The resurfaced gridlock following the menace from petrol tankers drivers who blocked the highways, leading to Apapa depot has compelled commuters to trek to their various places of work and businesses lamenting the ill fate.
The traffic jam, described as the worst ever in Lagos metropolis, causes untold stress to the commuters and forces many to abandon their destinations and return home. The development has also led arteries through which motorists would have maneuvered blocked, leaving passengers and drivers frustrated.
Motorists and commuters always moved with ease except on Thursdays. There is usually less traffic on Thursday mornings because of the “Every Thursday” sanitation programme in the state. Some motorists also abandon their vehicles by the roadside and take other means to their destination in the hope to come back and pick them up when traffic would have eased.
“It is not good at all. Thousands of Lagosians have resorted to trekking because the roads are blocked. Our driver took all alternative routes but met still met a brick wall.’
“I disembarked from the vehicle which I boarded at Surulere and took to trekking to Lagos Island, which you know is a good distance,” a commuter said.
Also speaking, a freight forwarder, Chukwudi Nwuche, decried the state of the port access roads even as he said the tankers lifting fuel were supposed to be given numbers instead of everyone using the roads at the same time.
“Every one of them moved at once, hence making the road unbearable for other users. They should have been given tally numbers or even asked to move in the night when vehicular traffic on the road will be lesser,” he said. I started trekking from Surulere to Lagos, this is very bad, and I do not know what could have caused this pain on all of us.
Our leaders should be proactive in arresting a situation like this that is capable to subjecting citizens to hardship. It’s bad,” another commuter who identified himself as Wale said.
“We have been trapped in this traffic and merry-go-round a lot without getting to our destination; it is quite painful that our leaders are not proactive. I would have trekked too but where I am going is far, I am not enjoying this anyway,” said a civil servant who was held up at the same spot in the traffic for over three hours.
The gridlock is noticed on all major roads in the metropolis, however, the Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC and the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA, have said that they were on top of the situation.
FRSC Lagos Sector Commander, Hyginus Omeje told the Nigerian Pilot Sunday, that there had been partnership among the Nigerian Police Force, LASTMA and the corps to detangle the gridlock.
“We have been working endlessly since we noticed the gridlock; we have tried to restrict all the tankers that trooped into Lagos to load fuel from all other states to one lane.
“It has really been difficult because they are the ones causing the congestion and it is difficult to tow them, especially when they are loaded to avoid fire outbreak.
“This is always the aftermath of the fuel scarcity as many tankers come to lift petroleum products from tank farms that do not have loading bay,” he said.
He said that with the concentration of tank farms in the Apapa area, there should be checks on tank farms without loading bays before the issuance of certificates. The FRSC boss urged the Federal Government to endeavour to open other tank farms in Ijebu-Ode and Benin as part of the solutions to the perennial gridlock in the state.
 LASTMA General Manager, Babatunde Edu, said that the authority worked all through the night to arrest the situation by restricting the tankers to one single lane.
“I have not had sleep since yesterday, I have been here working with my men to ensure that the problem is resolved and people can enter Lagos.
“Tankers and other articulated vehicles entering or leaving Apapa should not lock down Lagos, they should obey traffic managers’ directive by restricting their operations to one single lane.
“We are working assiduously to ensure Ikorodu road is gridlock-free, and that no tanker is allowed on Eko Bridge except on Oshodi/Mile 2 road,” he said.
Edu blamed the gridlock on the bad roads along the axis, saying that though the Federal Ministry of Works worked on a portion of the road the unfinished part was a problem. According to him, for such experience not to recur, the issues of infrastructure decay and lingering fuel scarcity have to be addressed.
The LASTMA boss urged motorists who had no serious business to do in Apapa to avoid the road.
Following the development the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, has also appealed to Lagosians to bear with it over gridlocks caused by petrol tanker drivers in Apapa axis, Lagos.
South-West Chairman of the union, Tokunbo Korodo said that the untold hardship was not a fault of the union members.
“Most of the tankers responsible for the traffic jam came from the northern part of the country to load petroleum products in Lagos. It is unfortunate that the tankers came as planned but they brought traffic gridlock to the Apapa axis.
They were programmed to get the products here (Lagos), but when they got here most of the depots owned by independent marketers refused to load the tankers.
The independent marketers are aggrieved they were not carried along with the major oil marketers on the recent subsidy payment by the Federal Government.
“Now that the tanker drivers are here, it is difficult to return to the north without the product because it will not make an economic sense.
“For them to go back to their stations (empty) is economic loss; so they will continue to wait till they get the products.
“This is coupled with an early morning accident along Ikorodu Road. The union is working with the officials of Lagos State traffic unit to manage the situation,” he said.
He said the gridlock would ease immediately majority of the tankers load and leave Lagos.
Korodo reiterated that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, should de-centralise the loading of petroleum products to reduce traffic gridlocks on Lagos roads.
He said that only three depots out of over 50 available currently had petroleum products, adding that this was mainly responsible for the traffic jam.
Korodo said that the three depots were Capital Oil and Gas Tank Farm, Ibeto Oil and Gas Tank farm and Integrated Oil and Gas Tank Farm, all in the Apapa area.

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