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The ultimatum over Apapa gridlock

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IN an outburst of bottled-up frustration and anger, some critical stakeholders in the Apapa area of Lagos have come together to issue the Federal and Lagos State governments a 21-day ultimatum to clear the armada of trucks that have, for years, made life a living hell for them and the Nigerian economy at large.

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Reports quoted a spokesman for the residents and business owners in Apapa, retired Brigadier-General Shola Ayo Vaughan, of threatening to shut down indefinitely, all business activities in Apapa and environs if government fails to act.

Vaughan reportedly said the residents and business owners were prepared to block all entries into the nation’s number one sea gateway, which can cripple international commerce, besides being a major source of non-oil revenue for the country.

For more than ten years, the trucks have held Apapa and the entire Lagos metropolis to ransom, with all the streets and every available space (including bridge tops) occupied by the invading automobile juggernauts from all parts of the country and beyond. Life is a daily nightmare for those who live, work and own businesses in Apapa. They spend long hours in the gridlock. Cost of property has plummeted as no one wants to live or buy property in Apapa.

Everyday, people are being robbed and extorted by miscreants as the standstill traffic renders them sitting ducks. At least five major media houses located in this axis are being threatened with extinction as their staff and members of the public find it almost impossible to access their premises. The same goes for the various industrial estates, warehouses, military and security institutions as well as large international markets in the area.

It will be very unfortunate if, as Vaughan alleges, government is deliberately “conniving” with shipping companies to force landlords, residents and business owners out of Apapa and continue to feed fat on the demurrage charged on containers locked in the traffic.

The Apapa gridlock is yet another confirmation that the failure and incompetence of government goes beyond specific political regimes. Four presidents – Olusegun Obasanjo, the late Umaru Yar’ Adua and Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and the incumbent Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress, APC, which had promised “change” failed to find solutions in spite of flurries of eye-catching efforts.

The Lagos State Government’s promises to construct and relocate the trucks to dedicated parks have also failed to materialise through various regimes.

We have no idea how Vaughan and his group intend to implement a popular action to force government to free Apapa from the trucks, traffic gridlocks and filth. But we support any lawful effort to get the authorities to find lasting solutions. With courage and commitment citizens can force genuine, lasting change.

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