Residents of Apapa, Lagos on Tuesday advocated the sustainability of the gains of the Federal Governments Task Force Team on the restoration of law and order and decongestion of the Apapa Ports and its access roads and bridges.
They spoke at a town hall meeting organised by the team, led by the Vice Chairman, Comrade Kayode Opeifa, at St. Andrews Anglican Church hall, Marine Road, Apapa.
Their remarks came on the heels of the reports of the teams Vice Chairman, Comrade Opeifa that the Team is meeting with the residents of Apapa GRA to allay their concerns over the activities of the Team and to generate more ideas towards achieving the sustainability of free flow of traffic at Apapa and to enable them take ownership of the space.
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Opeifa, who said the team had achieved what it was set up to accomplish, admitted that achieving a seamless flow of traffic in Apapa is an ongoing project, adding that the government will work on all details that will ensure that trucks are not unduly delayed to the point that they will constitute a nuisance on the road, as they hitherto used to.
He said: Now we have been able to ensure that no trucks stay on the roads anywhere in Apapa. We have stopped the issue of extortion, which was a by-product of the demurrage system that was hitherto in operation, which the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) and the ship owners are already working on with terminal operators. The NSC has negotiated a slash in the demurrage and we believe once this is put into operation, it will reduce the pressure to get into Apapa and the number of trucks will drastically reduce. This will be complemented by a call up system that is more proactive and an electronic call up system will further clean the system.
Opeifa, who noted that it is impossible to shut down Apapa or stop trucks from moving goods in and out of the ports, said what needed to be done was to ensure that the ports activities did not negatively impact on the lives of residents. He added that that was what the Federal Government was desirous of doing.
The Apapa Port is the nations third largest revenue earner and any attempt to shut it down will hamper the nations economy. So we cannot shut it down. We also cannot ask the trucks to stop coming into Apapa because they are in business that impacts on our daily living. But we will continue to explore ways to ensure that we manage their activities. This we will continue to do, Opeifa said.
He said the Team is a product of series of meetings with stakeholders and especially with members of the Presidential Committee on the Ease of Doing Business at Apapa, which has come up with a number of solutions to the Apapa gridlock, adding that the team will coordinate the implementation of all interventions in order to ensure that the old glory of Apapa is restored.
Leading other residents, the Chairman of Apapa Government Reservation Area Residents Association (AGRARA) Brig-Gen. Sola Ayo Vaughan (retd), said the gains of the past 60 days would be lost if residents and other government agencies, such as the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), Nigeria Shippers Council (NSC), Lagos State Transport Management Agency (LASTMA), Nigeria Police and residents did not take ownership of the initiative.
Author: Adeyinka Aderibigbe