Lagos State Government and the leadership of Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) have recorded a major progress in an effort to proffer lasting solution to the menace of trucks causing gridlocks in Apapa.
From next Saturday on, movement of trucks in and out of the Lagos seaports will now be organised through a transparent electronic call-up system that will be based on first-come-first-serve basis.
With the new system, no container-laden truck is expected to go on Apapa corridor without clearance from the call-up platform. Any truck that flouts the electronic roster and park along Apapa corridor will be impounded by the Taskforce already set up by the Lagos State Government.
The development was disclosed, on Tuesday, when Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu received the NPA Managing Director, Mrs. Hadiza Bala Usman, in audience at the State House, Alausa.
Sanwo-Olu expressed optimism on the transparent electronic call-up system, saying the move was the beginning of the end of Apapa gridlock. He said the call-up platform would be complemented with virtual dashboards that will be placed in strategic locations around the seaports, where all stakeholders will monitor scheduling of container movement.
The Governor praised NPA for the innovative approach towards tackling the truck menace around ports, pledging that the State Government would sustain the effort with strict enforcement of traffic regulations along the Apapa corridor.
He said: “This is the beginning of a better journey time for our citizens within the Apapa seaports and environ. This electronic system has limited interface with security operatives and unions, which usually cause the gridlock problem. It will be a simple case of possessing electronic clearance. If you don’t have it, you don’t have any reason to be around the seaports.
“In enforcing the new regulations, we are deploying more than enough towing vehicles to impound erring trucks. The huge amount to be paid as fine for flouting the call-up system will be a deterrent for drivers not to repeat it. The stakeholders need to understand we are serious about ridding Apapa of the menace that has brought pains to our citizens living and doing businesses along the corridor.”
Sanwo-Olu said the State Government would be deploying 500 officers of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) to work collaboratively with NPA and enforce the new call-up regulation, directing the State’s agency not to spare any effort in achieving free flow of traffic in Apapa.
The Governor said the State was working out a collaboration between the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Vehicle Inspection Service (VIS) and NPA to ascertain the road worthiness of trucks before leaving their stations to the seaports. This, he said, is to check truck accidents on the highways.
Sanwo-Olu said there would be regular review of the call-up system for sustenance of the progress and optimised performance.
He said: “We can bring back a better living experience for Apapa residents through the new system and have better traffic movement on routes in the area. Lagos Government is fully committed to ensuring all points we have agreed on will be implemented and get all relevant support.”
Ms. Bala Usman said the visit to the State House was to brief the Governor on the status of the electronic call-up platform before it would be fully launched. She said the development underscored NPA’s commitment towards ending the menace of trucks around the seaports.
She said part of the advantages of the new system was the creation of eight approved parks where all trucks must first be stationed before being electronically called into the seaports.
The NPA boss said the electronic system had addressed the excuses usually given by truck drivers for parking their vehicles on the highways, stressing that any truck found around the ports without electronic clearance would be impounded.
She said: “The deadline for the commencement of the electronic call-up system is February 27, 2021 and we are here to strengthen collaboration with the Lagos State Government on implementation and compliance as we commence the process. The new system will be done in collaboration with the State. We have worked seamlessly to ensure Apapa is rid of the menace of trucks.
“All truck owners and stakeholders have been briefed about the new development over the past months. Any truck found in Apapa corridor without call-up clearance will be impounded and Lagos Government will provide the platform with which any fine payment will be collected.”
Ms Bala Usman said the era of individuals depositing empty containers in the seaports was over. She said empty containers must now be deposited with the shipping companies, which are expected to keep the containers in their holding bays at no cost to individuals who own the shipment.