KENECHUKWU EZEONYEJIAKU writes that for the past few weeks now, moving around Lagos has become a nightmare for motorists and residents in general as trucks have taken over the entire roads.
From the Apapa wharf through to Ijesha on the Oshodi/Apapa Express Way, Western Avenue, Lagos Badagry Express Way on the Orile axis, Amuwo Odofin/Okota roads and many other roads in the city have now become a sort of parking lots for these trucks.
Even though the activities of these articulated vehicles on these routes is no more news, however, the situation this time around is worrisome as the truck drivers embarked on an industrial action due to many problems they are facing in their haulage job, thereby, blocking a large chunk of the express and causing untold hardship to residents.
Speaking to some of these transporters and freight agents, they stated that the reason for the strike ranges from extortion by different security agents on the wharf roads and delay on the part of shipping companies in collecting back their empty containers.
In the case of the former, anybody conversant with Apapa roads is aware of how deplorable the state of the road is. The roads have completely collapsed, causing chaos, pains and loss of lives and goods worth billions.
In their bid to maneuver the ever gridlock on the roads, these transporters resort to going against traffic, thereby, creating an avenue for extortion for security agents sent on the roads to control traffic.
According to Sunday Eneh, a container truck driver, he disclosed that for the drivers to take “one way”, they have to settle the Police, Army, Navy, and Lagos State Traffic Management Agency (LASTMA) officials in the road with a few ranging from N5000 to N10000.
However, he stated the strike was embarked on when Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) officers decided to join the party and hiked their own fee to N15000.
He said: “You cannot charge a work and then spends the whole money on settling security agents because of a situation which is no fault of yours.
“If the roads were to be fixed and everything moving as it should be, nobody will ever think of going against the traffic in order to meet up with on his job.
“Apart from the huge money which the nation makes on this port daily, each container that goes out of the port is charged N500 and N1000 for 20feet and 40feet containers respectively by the Lagos State government for what they say is road maintenance fee. “You can see with your eyes how the condition of the roads they are collecting these huge sums of money daily is.”
Meanwhile, another driver interviewed by The Authority who simply gave his name as Ikechukwu, disclosed that part of the problem for their resort to strike is the delay they encounter in dropping off empty containers to shipping companies after delivery.
He noted that they stay days and weeks on queue, passing through stress and pains and waiting to drop off these empties.
These situations seek the urgent attention and action of the government to tackle.
According to a resident who resides at Kirikiri area of the state, Mr. Johnson Ogah, the best way to tackle the menace of these articulated vehicles in Lagos is simply to open up other ports in different parts of the country.
“What do you expect to get when it is only Lagos port that is more functional in a country of more than 150million people? Tankers from all over the country comes to Lagos to lift fuel and every damn importation is virtually done through the Lagos port.
“Government needs to look into this and see that it is by opening up other ports in the country that this menace can be stopped and Lagos decongested.”