About two weeks ago, the Lagos State Government announced the constitution of what it called Special Traffic Team to resolve the traffic gridlock in and around Apapa.
Members of the team included: Toyin Fayinka (Special Adviser to the Governor on Transportation) Olajide Oduyoye (General Manager, Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), Sola Giwa (Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Central Business Districts); and Ayodeji Laurent (SSA to the Governor on Political Security Intelligence).
In the words of the state government: “The Special Traffic Management and Enforcement Compliance Team is saddled with the responsibility of ensuring a seamless traffic management system specifically designed to restore sanity in and around Apapa.
“They are to create a cohesive system that would aid the resurgence of business activities and ensure that residents live in a conducive environment devoid of traffic-induced stress´´.
The new team is coming about seven weeks after the Federal Government had pronounced the disbandment of its own ‘Task Team’, which is officially chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, but headed on ground by a former Commissioner for Transport in the state; Mr Kayode Opeifa.
Inaugurated on April 25, 2019 by President Muhammadu Buhari, with representations from Inspector-General of Police; Lagos State Government; Nigerian Ports Authority, Nigerian Shippers Council, Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council, PEBEC and Federal Road Safety Corps.
Others were: Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, Dry Cargo Truckers; Wet Cargo Truckers; Apapa residents and Local Government; the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, and Petroleum Tanker Drivers Union.
Tried as the obviously high-powered Task Team tried, it only barely scratched the surface of the menace of traffic in Apapa.
Even though Mr Opeifa attributed a great deal of success to his team, those who work, live or journey through Apapa on daily basis think otherwise.
Apapa stakeholders, be they: truckers, freight forwarders, importers, exporters, owners of businesses, employees of business outfits, workers in government establishments; they all surfer the consequences of heavy vehicular traffic.
But, appraising his team’s performance, Opeifa had said: “The Presidential Task Team has helped to restore law and order on all roads leading to the Lagos Ports and within the Lagos Port Maritime logistic Corridor, removal of all stationary trucks on Lagos roads leading to the Ports”. But that can not be true!
If anything, during the stewardship of the team, allegations of bribery was rife. It cost more to move cargoes out of the ports to consignees, because of the heavy vehicular traffic. The Apapa corridor became more hellish during Opeifa. All manners of trucker’s associations sprang up; not to protect their members, but to partake of the largesse of bribe-for-right- of-way on the two approaches to Lagos ports. The truth is that, the Opeifa team got enmeshed in the high wired interest in Apapa traffic.
Back to the current. The composition of the Lagos State team on Apapa traffic leaves nothing to cheer, its membership is not inspiring as to expect result.
It’s the same old song, because the Special adviser to Governor Sanwo-Olu on Transportation, General Manager, LASTMA and a few other aides of the Governor are the political drivers of this wheel.
Just like the Federal Government Task Team which had Opeifa as head, the head of the Lagos state team is Mr Toyin Fayinka; the Special Adviser to the Governor on Transportation!
Just like the Federal Government team, the Governor also said that the state team will work with LASTMA, FRSC, Police and Intelligence Service officers. The Federal Government Task Team also had these. In fact, the current Commissioner of Police in Lagos; Mr Hakeem Odumosu was the head of Police team. Can we now see that nothing has changed, except the nomenclature?
Is this arrangement different or any better than the Federal Government with Opeifa as head? No.
Opeifa failed because, the roads leading to Apapa were not in the best of shape, he had to work with some entrenched stakeholders whose interests were pecuniary. The Police and LASTMA officers attached to his task team compromised hugely. Above all, he failed because there is no adequate arrangement for holding bays where trucks coming into Lagos ports with empty containers could drop them.
Presently, there is no such arrangement. Unless the Nigerian Ports Authourity make good its promise to begin electronic call-up of trucks by February 27 and the Mile 2 to Tin Can port road is fixed, the Lagos state team on Apapa traffic is not going to succeed.