By Laolu Akande, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity,
Office of the Vice President
The Federal Government has extended by two weeks, the time given the Presidential Taskforce on the Apapa traffic gridlock to resolve the matter following a request for extension by members of the taskforce and other stakeholders.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, approved the extension at a meeting of the Presidential Taskforce with stakeholders held at the Presidential Villa, earlier in the week.
The taskforce which commenced its assignment on May 24 had up to June 7 to complete the assignment, but is now expected to present a formal report at the end of its extended mandate on June 24.
The presidential directive was issued for the clearing up of the Apapa gridlock and the restoration of law and order to Apapa and its environs within 2 weeks. The directive followed an emergency meeting convened by President Muhammadu Buhari and chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, on the 25th of April, 2019.
While the Vice President chairs the task force, its daily operations are supervised by an Executive Vice Chairman, Comrade Kayode Opeifa. Membership of the team is drawn from the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), Nigerian Ports Authority and the Nigerian Shippers Council.
Other members include a special unit of the Nigeria Police Force led by a Commissioner of Police, the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), representatives of the Truck Transport Union, the Lagos State Government through the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), and other relevant MDAs.
According to the Vice President at the meeting held on Tuesday “we will extend the tenure of the taskforce by two weeks and we must all work together to be able to resolve all the issues raised here today.”
Speaking on steps to be taken to find lasting solutions to the problem, Prof. Osinbajo added that “it will take both medium and long term solutions to ultimately enable us present to the users an efficient port environment for the economy and businesses to thrive.”
He warned that “we will not allow any interests to undermine our nation’s economy”.
The Vice President directed the NPA and other stakeholders to expedite action on the opening of additional truck parks and parking bays around Lagos as well as the commencement of the electronic call-up system at the Port.
In his presentation at the meeting, Opeifa, the Executive Vice Chairman of the taskforce, summarised the progress made so far by the team.
He said despite challenges experienced in the course of the assignment, it was able to record a significant compliance level of the presidential directive on the clearance of the Apapa gridlock.
According to him, efforts are ongoing to open new parking bays for trucks around the port area and in other parts of Lagos, preparatory to the commencement of the electronic call-up system at the port– one of the measures proposed to ameliorate the hardship at the port area.