AMATO Insists no Taskforce Can Clear Apapa Gridlock

Apapa grilock

By Sandra Chukwunyere and Ambrose Okehi

Despite the efforts of the highly respected Presidential Task force to end Apapa gridlock, that of the Executive Governor of Lagos, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu and that of the combined team of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA, the Nigeria Police, the Military personnel to clear the port access road gridlock, a group of maritime truck owners  have said that no kind of task force can bring an end to the perennial traffic.
The group said, they are opposed to truck call-up system nor any other formula but insists that no number of taskforce can clear Apapa gridlock.
The Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO) stated that its members are not opposed to the introduction of any form of regulation, especially under the proposed automated truck call-up system.
Chairman of the association, Chief Remi Ogungbemi, who spoke at the monthly roundtable of the Maritime Reporters’ Association of Nigeria MARAN in Lagos,  warned that only the building of modern transport infrastructure can address the problem of perennial gridlock on the nation’s seaport access roads in Apapa, not deployment of tas kforce or military.
According to Ogungbemi, over the years, members of the association have continued to clamour for the introduction of truck automated call-up system as part of efforts to check the indiscriminate parking of trucks and other articulated vehicles on port access roads and bridges in Lagos, which contribute significantly to the worsening gridlock in Apapa.
He noted that world over, businesses are adopting the option of automation in order to reduce cost, enhance efficiency and turn -around time, citing the instances of banking transactions and airline flight bookings, which can be done these days from the comfort of one’s office or home, using modern automation equipment.
While insisting that trucking, which plays a crucial role in the global supply chain cannot afford to remain manual in this 21st century, he however noted that the right infrastructure must be put in place to drive the automation, citing the instances of banks, airlines which made massive investments over the years in infrastructure that supports automation.
“Infrastructure is key to the automation of trucking in Nigeria’s maritime industry not establishing of task forces and deployment of gun- wielding military men. No amount of deployment of task forces and the military can resolve the issues around the traffic congestion in Apapa, as we have seen over the years.
“Regulation of the movement of trucks and articulated vehicles in and out of the seaports is also good and desirable but the right infrastructure such as modern truck terminals and empty containers’ holding bays connected to the waterways must be put in place to facilitate seamless movement of containers to the ports.
“Even eatery operators provide parking spaces for their customers’ cars and vehicles not to talk of seaports that require constant movement of cargo using heavy trucks and articulated vehicles. Sometimes we continue to wonder whether those that planned and executed the port concession planned that movement of cargo would be done using motor bikes”, Ogungbemi said sarcastically.
On the threat by operatives of the Federal Road Safety Corps FRSC and the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority LASTMA to clampdown on rickety trucks, he noted the primary cause of ricketiness of the trucks remains the poor state of the roads, which wear them out fast and over a short period, they become rickety.
He also attributed the problem to the poor state of the Nigeria’s economy, which has made in almost impossible for truckers to acquire brand new trucks, which he said cost between N30million-N40million per unit, wondering how many trucks they could acquire at such unit price.
“He said: One of such ‘rickety’ trucks provides food for over 40 Nigerians, comprising to the owner of the truck, the driver, his assistant and the mechanics and their families as well as other dependents, who earn their daily bread from the proceeds of the trucks”.
While appealing to the operatives of the FRSC and LASTMA to exercise caution in their proposed clampdown, Ogungbemi assured that the association will continue to talk to its members to adhere to minimum standards for their trucks, especially things like rear lights and screen wipers that can pose a threat to other road users.

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