‘’NPA Gave Us Legal Document To Occupy The Place We Are Today, But The Ministry Of Works Said That The Place Does Not Belong To NPA’’…Keshiro (RTEAN Chieftain)
Comrade Sylvester Keshiro is a former chairman of Apapa Chapter, Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria [RTEAN). He recently spoke with our Correspondent, Roland Ekama on issues bordering in the traffic situation in Apapa and other transport related issues.
What Can Government And Stakeholders Do About Apapa Traffic?
Apapa traffic is a serious problem to all road users plying the route and in order to tackle this problem, government should stop companies from being established on Apapa/ Oshodi expressway because the companies around there are just too many. As a matter of fact, we have oil and gas companies scattered all over, talk less of the other part of Apapa which also has a lot of maritime businesses. In other words, these companies make use of trucks, tankers and also trailers that are parked indiscriminately along the roads. These alone are the major causes of traffic congestion in the area. Being an industrial community, everybody wants to come to Apapa for business or to open a business venture. Maybe if vehicles can move in the air, this will bring about a lasting solution to the traffic gridlock in Apapa, and if that cannot happen, there is no way out of the problem of traffic in this end of Lagos State. But if they can carry out maintenance on the roads, it may reduce traffic congestion; there can’t be an end to the traffic problem. Shipping companies must have holding bay outside the port complex for the vehicles to park until they are called upon for loading so that the number of trucks along the road will reduce. As for the port entry, there should be an addition gate to serve as entry point which can take more than three vehicles at once, so it will reduce the number of trucks on the road, if the concessionaires can have three gates, it will help to reduce traffic on the major road and on their way into the port.
You Talked About Short Term Measures To Reduce Traffic On The Port Access Roads, What About For Long Term Measures?
The best thing for the Lagos State Government to do in order to have a lasting solution to the traffic problems is for them to reduce the number of oil and gas companies and the maritime service firms that are situated along the port access roads, because with that, most of vehicle will not be seen parked all over the street and roads of Apapa. All that we are saying right now are temporary measures, but if the government can direct most of the companies to relocate from Apapa, it will be the permanent solution, it is the only way out of the Apapa traffic, and even though government expands the roads in it will not solve the problem at all.
Do You Think It Is Possible For The Government To Relocate Oil And Gas Companies And Maritime Businesses?
Everything is possible because if it is not possible the government will not move the capital of the country from Lagos to Abuja or move the headquarters of Nigeria Port Authority [NPA] from Abuja back to Lagos state, so tell me what is not possible? It is very possible for the government to relocate these companies from this end to other parts of the state for the betterment of the citizens of Lagos state. Instead making populace in Apapa to spend five to six hours on the road on a daily basis, why can’t the government move these companies from the port access roads? For those working in Apapa, with such hours wasted on the road tell me how many minutes or hours will they spend on their jobs in their various offices? That is why I said the government should move these companies away from the port access road, even as we speak the traffic situation in Lagos is affecting the economy in totality, so it is possible and the number of oil companies, shipping and maritime companies are many on the road. Expansion of the road will only reduce traffic congestion and not actually putting an end to it. However this area is more of a residential community because if anything happen right now the whole people in Ajegunle and Apapa will suffer because we are talking about lives and property in general. If anything happens at coconut, sunrise, warehouse and in other parts where you have tank farms and depots, then we all will know that lives and property are at stake. If the flame of a generating set can kill human beings, what about the flame from diesel, petrol and kerosene.
Has The Traffic Situation Changed With The Presence Of A Combined Team Of LAPARC, Police And LASTMA Officials Along The Port Access Road?
The introduction of the Navy, Police and other security personnel along the port access road has helped in one way or the other, but that has not been the permanent solution. It is a bit free compared to the time when there were no officials controlling traffic along the road, but come to think of it, we have two lanes on the expressway for the regular commuters that ply the road everyday, then you have a single lane which ordinarily ought to have been for parking and for passengers to alight at their various bus stop which has been taken over by trucks, tankers and trailers, then you expect a smooth flow of traffic? Is one lane enough for the other users, the answer is no and that is why I said that the issue of drafting traffic officials there cannot arrest the situation on ground. When the ports were opened in Apapa back then, the roads were good and everybody enjoyed it, but as importation of cargoes into the country continues to increase coupled with the upsurge of maritime, shipping and oil and gas activities that are scattered all over the streets of Apapa it turned to what is now on ground. The officials of LAPARC and LASTMA are trying their best, but their best is not still the solution of the lingering problem of traffic in Apapa.
As The Former Chairman, Apapa Chapter of RTEAN, Has There Been Any Dispute
Between Your Men And The LAPARC/LASTMA Official?
There has never been any dispute whatsoever since they commenced operation along the port access road. They are here to maintain orderliness on the road to ensure smooth flow of traffic, but the policy is killing. For instance, every vehicle that is towed along the port access road is asked to pay N85, 000, this in turn has made a lot of the transporters to wind up their companies because of the problems of vehicles being towed. As a result of the policy by the state government, many of my colleagues have said goodbye to transportation business.
What Does The Policy By The State Government Entail?
When you have a vehicle on the road, it is basically by loans from the banks and for a little mistake either from the driver or whatsoever they ask you to pay N85, 000, this is killing and it has made some vehicles to remain rickety because there is no money to maintain them. If you have loan to put your vehicle on the roads and you are paying a fine of N85, 000, then if your vehicle experiences any fault then it will not be on the road in order for it not to be seized by the officials. Then when you have at least four or five vehicles and drivers are running away from this business because of the long time they spend outside their homes, some spend two to three days outside without their family, this has discouraged some of the drivers, the owners of the vehicles cannot drive two vehicles at the same time. The state government did not provide any parking space for these vehicles and even the place we are right now is in court with the ministry of works because they said the place does not belong to NPA. The truth is that the Nigeria Port Authority gave us legal documents to occupy the place where we are today but the ministry of works said that the place does not belong to NPA, so they came to the place some three years back to tow about 240 vehicles for which we paid over N4 million to LASTMA to recover the towed vehicles and that is why we went to court, however as we speak the case is still in court. So what do we do because if tomorrow the court decides that we should leave here, the big question is where are we going to park or relocate all these vehicles which are meant to service the ports, because as it is they cannot close down the port and the vehicles here are for use at the ports? Can the ministry of works carry the water to another part of the state? So we are calling on the government to call the ministry of works to order.
How Can You Describe The Nigeria Ports in General?
Nigeria port has improved in the area of imports, most especially also I must say that safety in the Nigeria port has improved over time, the ports have also improved in terms of congestion. The only thing right now is that the port should provide holding bays and parking space for the vehicles servicing the ports so that all these vehicles will not be on the road, if we have enough parking space right now, things will change.