Unlocking The Apapa Gridlock | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Unlocking The Apapa Gridlock

Apapa Gridlock
Posted: Sep 29, 2016 at 6:32 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

The recent resolve by Lagos State Government and the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) to find permanent solution to the traffic gridlock in Apapa is both reassuring and commendable, taking into consideration the importance of the gateway zone to the nation’s socio-economic well-being.

Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, the Lagos State governor, while receiving the NPA team led by Hadiza Bala Usman, its Managing Director at Lagos House, Ikeja, affirmed the readiness of his administration to partner with the maritime agency to end the gridlock that has over the years, assailed business activities in Apapa.

Apapa, beside hosting one of the biggest industrial estates in the country, is home to the nation’s biggest maritime gateways- Apapa and Tin Can ports. Also, with about 57 tank farms and sprawling residential estates around the axis, the roads linking the commercial hub have manifestly become inadequate for the attracted traffic volume.

To worsen the situation, the two link roads- Apapa-Oshodi Expressway and the Ijora Causeway/Funso Williams Avenue have emerged as one of the inglorious signposts of the nation’s parlous infrastructural facilities. To virtually all motorists and public transport commuters that have businesses to do at the gateway community, Apapa has become a nightmare.

Indeed, in the last three years, the traffic situation in the axis has become so unbearable that many residents and businesses were forced to relocate from the area. Some corporate organisations that were ill-at-ease at relocating, directed workers to be operating from their respective homes.

Expectedly, stakeholders have assessed economic losses from the gridlock at over N5 billion daily. Indeed, at the peak of the crisis two years ago, when traffic was literally locked down for several weeks, NPA recorded a loss of over N7 trillion.

With the assessed high economic profile of business activities in the axis, we believe that an effective collaborative effort on the part of Federal and Lagos State governments is most desirable at this time, to address the nightmarish saga that has held Apapa in its jugular.

For a start, certain short term palliative measures must be taken to achieve immediate relief for residents, business operators and workers in the economic hub. These include repairs of the two major roads linking Apapa with the rest of the country.

The “start and stop” rehabilitation exercises of the past, that have seen the two carriageways serially punctuated widely by potholes must give way to a more focused and enduring initiative.

               While acknowledging the interventions of Lagos State government in addressing the rehabilitation of some portions of these Federal roads in the past, its efforts must be sustained, inasmuch as the government at the centre should play its statutory role in this regard. The collaborative exercise on the part of the two administrations should be more visible, moreso as Mr Babatunde Fashola(SAN), the current Minister of Works, Power, and Housing, was previously at the helm of affairs in Alausa, Lagos and is therefore expected to play up the manifest synergy with his successor in office.

Also, effective traffic control by the Nigeria Police, Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), the Navy and the Army must be stepped up to restore sanity along the roads.

The tank farms that have been contributing greatly to the gridlock, through the tankers evacuating petroleum products from the facilities, must be relocated immediately, in line with the wishes of stakeholders in the area, especially the residents.

On a long term basis however, Apapa access architecture needs a comprehensive review. The rail link with the premier port in the gateway community must be modernised with a standard gauge system, in line with the transport mode plan of the Federal Government. The Tin Can Port, which presently has no rail link facility should be included in the proposed transportation agenda. This will in no small measure, relief the carriageways to the numerous road tankers and trailers that ply these routes on daily basis. Evacuation of goods from the ports will also achieve greater efficiency and effectiveness.

With the current clogging of the two carriageways leading to the seaports, new access roads, with alignments that evade the residential and industrial estates, must be built, in line with similar initiatives taken by countries that were faced with similar gridlock saga, around the world.