There are apprehensions about the probable return of anarchy to Apapa and environs, following the withdrawal of the Presidential Task Force that had for months been maintaining sanity in the place. The stakeholders’ concern is accentuated by reports that days after the Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo-led task force had wound up, and presumably handed over the control of law and order, as well as the management of traffic to the Lagos State Government, the Lagos State Traffic Management Agency (LASTMA) was yet to take over.
There is, indeed, cause to worry. Not only is the chaotic traffic situation said to be resurfacing, LASTMA has denied the report that the control of traffic in Apapa had been handed over to it.
The agency, in a statement issued on October 12, by its general manager, Mr Olajide Oduyoye, denounced the report, maintaining that LASTMA and other enforcement agencies in the state were yet to be officially briefed about the handover, despite the fact that they had been part of the successes recorded by the task force.
The LASTMA boss assured that the law enforcement agencies would never abandon the Apapa traffic management responsibilities, adding that the agency will continue to carry out its functions to ensure free flow of traffic in that axis.
This presupposes that LASTMA and other enforcement agencies in the state are yet to take full control of traffic in Apapa and environs. It is quite difficult to reconcile LASTMA’s reaction with the report that the decision to hand over the continued enforcement of law and order to the Lagos State Government was taken at a meeting held on October 7. The meeting, according to the report, was attended by the representatives of the vice-president, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) and other federal agencies.
It is befuddling that five days after a meeting to hand over the control and management of Apapa traffic to the Lagos State Government reportedly held, such an important decision was either yet to be communicated to the appropriate quarters, or those who were to effect the official handover were yet to do so as at that date.
Something is definitely wrong somewhere and it does no credit to the good job, which the presidential task force had done in restoring sanity to Apapa.
Following the public outcry against the near-total collapse of law and order in Apapa and environs last year, leading to the famed gridlock, which had rendered the place almost inaccessible, President Muhammadu Buhari had given owners of all trucks and trailers a 72- hour ultimatum to remove them from roads leading to Apapa. The President eventually set up a task force with the mandate to restore law and order within two weeks.
The task force was headed by the vice-president as chairman and Mr. Kayode Opeifa as executive vice chairman. It moved in immediately and was able to check the indiscriminate parking of trucks, tankers and other containerised heavy duty vehicles on the roads leading to Apapa port city and environs.
The task force also devised ingenious means, which succeeded in putting paid to the corrupt practices that had fuelled the engine of the intractable gridlock in that axis. And in no time, businesses, which had taken flight during the chaotic era, began to spring up again, as Apapa residents, business owners and other stakeholders could easily access the area once again.
Critical stakeholders have, however, begun to worry that the place may become inaccessible again following the lacuna created by the exit of the presidential task force.
Let those directly concerned move in and resolve whatever differences there are as soon as possible, so that LASTMA and other enforcement agencies could assume immediate and full control and management of traffic, law and order in Apapa. The return of sanity to Apapa port city and environs must be sustained by all means possible. Those concerned must, therefore, put their acts together urgently and ensure that LASTMA and other enforcement agencies in the state continue where the presidential task force had stopped. Apapa must not be allowed to slide into chaos again.