Keeping faith with his promise to be back in a week’s time to monitor progress in the efforts to address the problem of traffic gridlock in Apapa, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola again visited the Tin Can Port road and Creek road among others on Sunday calling on the Federal Government to live up to its responsibility by restoring the infrastructural damage which, he says, is threatening to destroy the area.
During his visit last week Sunday, Fashola who expressed dismay at the traffic gridlock created by the tankers, especially on Creek Road and other roads leading to both Apapa and Tin Can Island Ports, met with the leadership of the tanker drivers’ association and extracted a promise from them to create at least one lane to enable other road users in the area to access their homes and businesses.
Fielding questions from journalists after the inspection of the Tincan Port Road and Creek Road, Governor Fashola frowned at the deterioration in the area saying the State Government is paying heavily for the damage caused by the mismanagement of the Ports and fuel distribution by the Federal Government.
He told newsmen, “You can see, this is where tankers fall every day, claiming lives, damaging peoples’ vehicles. It is a herculean task every day that we have to remove one container or one fallen tanker from here all because of the mismanagement by the Federal Government of its Ports responsibility and of its fuel distribution responsibility”.
”Our land has been desecrated; you can see the destruction, people living on the road simply because the Federal Government cannot manage the distribution of fuel. People are defecating in open drains, all the drains here have become refuse dumps all because the Federal Government wants to give us fuel”, he said.
Pointing out that the State Government does not benefit from all the revenue generated at the Ports and from the fuel distribution, Fashola noted, “The Federal Government wants to run a Port. Look at the roads here, they have all gone. And we don’t get derivation from oil but we pay so heavily for the distribution of fuel”.
“Residents must know this is a Federal problem, it is not the State’s problem; the distribution of fuel is a Federal problem. The Federal Government must get up now and change the game and live up to its responsibility. Its mismanagement of fuel and the Port is destroying Apapa and destroying Lagos; this must stop”, the Governor said.
Asked what option the Federal Government should adopt to solve the problem, Fashola said, “Well I don’t know what options the Federal Government has but clearly road haulage of fuel by tankers and containers is not going to work. The roads cannot stand it no matter how hard you build them. So, instead of its slogans and propaganda about transformation, this place needs to be transformed”.
The Governor recalled that when the State Government started the work to improve the situation at Apapa, the Federal Government came and indicated its intention to work with the State Government but added that one year after that expression of intention, the Federal Government has not shown up.
“We started this work; they came and said they wanted to work with us. We have not heard from them over a year after that. This place has returned to a worse state from where we pushed it when they came”, he said.
Speaking to some leaders of the National Road Transport Owners at the Apapa Ports entrance, Fashola said everyone, including the transporters, the cargo owners and other stakeholders, has a role to play in the effort to restore sanity in the area adding that the State Government is ready to work with other agencies to make things better.
He told them, “I promised to be here this week and I am here; and as you have acknowledged, we have at least achieved some progress over one week. Although it is not all yet done, we have established one lane compliance from two, three lanes on this Creek Road and access to the Port”.
Noting that Apapa is the nation’s oldest industrial Estate, Fashola declared, “What I don’t understand is how this Federal Government left the Apapa Port and fuel distribution to deteriorate like this. Because this is the oldest or one of the oldest ports in the country and if this is the largest contributor to the economy of the country, I think there should be a more responsible management approach to this Port by the Federal Government”.
“All the roads here are Federal roads; I have just passed the Apapa – Oshodi Expressway leading to Tin Can Island and what you see there just makes the heart bleed. By mismanaging the Ports, by mismanaging the distribution of fuel, the Federal Government has just paralyzed the Apapa Industrial Estate and the GRA”, he said.
He described as tragic the fact that the distribution of daily good and the distribution of fuel which, according to him, “many countries have taken for granted”, has become a big problem for Nigeria adding, “We are at the point where we must choose between our life and fuel”.
The Governor, however, promised to continue to work through the agencies of Government to improve the situation in the area adding that he would continue to monitor the progress while the State’s Transport Management Agency, LASTMA, and other law enforcement agencies of the State would be deployed to assist in bring sanity to the area.
Earlier, the President of the Maritime Truck Owners Association, Mr. Remi Ogungbemi, had thanked the Governor for his continued effort to bring sanity into the traffic situation in the area saying the major problem was that while many businesses have come into the estate in the last 40 years, there has been no corresponding increase in infrastructure adding that the places designated for parking vehicles have been taken over by other businesses.
In his contribution, the General Manager (Admin) for the Nigerian Association of Road Trasport Owners (NARTO), Mr. Aloga Ogbogo, also thanked the State Governor for his continued intervention at the Estate in spite of the fact that the Federal Government owns the business there.
He, however, appealed to the Governor to assist in an ongoing negotiation between the association and landlords of a 61 hectare land area around Mile 2 saying if the association could acquire the land, it would solve the problem of parking space for all the tankers and trailers presently causing traffic gridlock in Apapa.