By Gboyega Akinsanmi
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, on Wednesday directed the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Ajani Owoseni, to unlock intractable gridlocks, which he said, had paralysed businesses and deteriorated insecurity in Apapa within 48 hours.
Also, the governor also directed the police commissioner to ensure total enforcement of Lagos Road Traffic Law, 2014 without fear and favour as a measure to restore order to Apapa, which hosts the country’s most strategic seaports.
He gave the directives in a phone call, which a government source said the governor made after reading a report on the flagrant breach of public order in Apapa Central Business District due to the activities of tanker drivers.
During the phone conversation, the governor expressed serious worry and concern, lamenting that gridlock that returned to Apapa despite that a special taskforce created for the purpose of ensuring traffic flow in the district.
The governor described the development as “huge embarrassment to the state government,” thereby directing the police commissioner to deploy security operatives to ease off gridlocks and ensure safety of lives and properties.
A government source said the traffic situation grew worse in Apapa and its environs just after the Force Headquarters transferred former Commissioner of Police, Mr. Kayode Aderanti from the state about two weeks ago.
The source said the standby taskforce, led by a Superintendent of Police, Mr. Akeem Adedeji had “to limit the enforcement of traffic law without obtaining directives because he might not have been adequately briefed on the matter.”
But the source acknowledged that the governor directed the new police commissioner on phone “to ensure free flow of traffic in Apapa and its environs within 48 hours and it should be sustained.” The source confided.
Precisely penultimate Wednesday, the governor parleyed with tank farm owners in Apapa on how to resolve the perennial traffic lock jam in the area, vowing that the state had the capacity to make parties involved play by the rule.
At the meeting, the governor assured that the state government “is ready to embark on the project with inputs from the tank owners. If the tankers must come in every day into Lagos, we must have location for them but not on the Bridge.
“As immediate solution, I will continue to use my task force to clean up the bridge. And also immediately look at my truck park at Orile and expand it from 350 to 1000. So for us to be able to accommodate you, you must come to the middle of the table. You cannot fold your arms and say that it does not concern you.
“I am giving up the security and safety of Lagosians by accommodating 57 tank farms and giving up the safety and peace of Lagosians by allowing over 1000 trucks to enter Lagos every day. It is very clear that tank farm owners do not want to take responsibility for what is happening on the Apapa gridlock.
“It is very clear also that if we are to start to think in the manner in which these presentations have been made we would say to get everybody off the bridge. There should be no tanker driver that should enter Lagos except he is cleared by the tank farm owners or maybe we find a ticketing system to control them.
“We have emphasized that the joint task force that we set up to clean up the bridge must continue and make sure that there is easy motorable access. We are not in a position to identify who is an intruder on the bridge. Our joint task force will continue and make sure that the truck and tankers do not constitute a nuisance to road users on the road.”