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Apapa residents to Osinbajo: We are now prisoners in our homes

Residents of Apapa, Ajegunle, Kirikiri and Ijora areas of the Lagos metropolis have continued to decry the chaotic traffic situations in their respective areas occasioned by the activities of articulated truck drivers.

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The residents, at a stakeholders meeting with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Western Naval Command, Apapa, last Thursday to address the situation, lamented that they have become prisoners in their own homes.

They feared Apapa could be sitting on a ticking time bomb which could go off any time. The problem, they warned, could lead to a complete breakdown of law and order if drastic measures were not taken to address the menace.

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The Chairman of the Apapa Local Government, Adele Elijah Owolabi, said a drastic action had become necessary to permanently address what he described as the lawlessness created by truck drivers in Apapa.

Owolabi stressed that the problem posed a serious threat to motorists and residents. “Residents can no longer move freely within their areas, talk more of going out of those areas. In fact, those who reside in Apapa are now prisoners in their own houses as they cannot walk around town,” he said.

The Managing Director, Angels Guards Security, Liverpool Road, Apapa, Israel Asigbe, said truck drivers had worsened the situation beyond a gridlock as they now constitute an environmental nuisance by defecating openly in drainages and cooking their meals by the roadside.

Asigbe narrated an instance: “There was a day I was driving home from the Liverpool area. A truck was parked in the middle of the road, preventing several others from going through. The truck’s driver sat on the bonnet of his vehicle and was eating. When I approached him to find out what was wrong, he arrogantly retorted, ‘can’t you see I am eating?’ 

“We waited after what seemed an hour while he ate. He then washed his hands and turned to us to say the truck’s kick-starter was faulty and if we really wanted to leave the spot, we should help to push the vehicle. I was shocked and sad.”

The security expert said that the truck drivers had so rendered the main roads in the Apapa area impassable such that other motorists now use the drainage slabs as road.

“The truck drivers have even converted the closed drainages into vehicle parks while the open ones are used as a foot-walk. Government should take immediate measures to address the chaotic traffic situation in order to restore life back to the once bubbling port city,” he said, adding that shipping companies, whose offices populate the area, were not helping efforts to combat the problem as they wouldn’t honour stakeholders meeting convenedto address the issues.

The Burma Street Residents’ Association in the Apapa area has also appealed to the Lagos State governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, to take decisive measures against the menace.

The worried residents and aggrieved business operators in the area lamented that until something urgent was done by the state government on it, “our lives and businesses will continue to be endangered, not just by the traffic chaos, but also by the nuisance and threats constituted by weird-looking motor boys, some of whom have been attacking and robbing innocent people in the area.”

Several business outfits were said to have relocated, while some others completely folded up due to the traffic situation. 

The Apapa gridlock is having a spiral effect in the adjoining communities such as Ajegunle, Ijora and Kirikiri as the long queues of trucks extend to those areas.

The publisher of a community paper, The Commoners, Momoh Jimoh Suleiman, wondered what would be the fate of residents of Ajegunle, a densely-populated area on the outskirts of the Lagos metropolis, in the event of a fire outbreak, as, to him, they knew next-to-nothing about fire disaster management.

“How will they get help with petrol tankers now meandering in out narrow streets? If any of those trucks falls, spilling its content into homes, what will happen?” Suleiman wondered.

The Commander, Nigerian Navy Ship Beecroft, Commodore Eyo Okon, said that the slow pace of the reconstruction work on Wharf Road accounted for the congestion in the area, while the Mile 2-Coconut axis was not motorable because of the gully in the middle of the road.

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