Begins clampdown on errant trucks from Monday
As part of efforts to rid the Lagos port corridors of indiscriminately parked trucks and retailers, the federal government has flagged off the Phase II of the Operation Free The Ports’ initiative in Lagos, today.
The ceremony which held at the headquarters of Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) is expected to sanitize the port corridors with errant trucks and shanties set to be seized from Monday, next week.
Speaking at the event, the Minister of State for Transportation, Senator Gbemisola Saraki commended the initiative managed by the Ports Standing Task Team (PSTT).
The Minister, who was represented by the Deputy Director, Maritime Services at the Transport Ministry, Mr. Adams Ofie, commended all port stakeholders for their roles in ensuring the modest success of the first phase of the operations.
She, however, noted that efforts would have to be intensified to attain even more successes in the new phase of the operation.
In his welcome address, the Executive Secretary of NSC, Hon. Emmanuel Jime expressed delight at the occasion to flag-off Phase II of “Operation Free the Ports’ Corridors”.
His words: “In April this year, I stood in this same venue to welcome you to the maiden flag-off of the exercise. To repeat the same task in marking the second phase is an exciting demonstration of success that the PSTT has achieved during the first phase.”
“My delight stemmed from the fact that with dedication, commitment and necessary will, there is no hindrance to our quest for national development that is unsurmountable. It is not easy to walk the path that the PSTT have been through these past few months. Many people had their reservation while others expressed their doubts as to the capability of the task team in successfully clearing the Apapa port complex to Sifax-Ijora Road corridor with a view to bringing sanity and ensuring free flow of traffic.”
“To be fair to the cynics, we all knew the enormity of the task to be a herculean one. However, at the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, buoyed by the cooperation of other committed stakeholders, we were resolute and dogged in our resolve in contributing to change the narrative.”
However, the NSC boss noted that the team’s success was not without dire consequences including stern resistance, intimidation, threat to lives and physical assault of operatives, gadgets and vehicles.
“A case in point was the attack on some personnel of the task team including the National Coordinator where they were assaulted and harassed. As I stated during my address of welcome at the maiden flag-off ceremony, the whole idea of “Operation Free the Ports’ Corridors” is essentially to rid the ports and Ports’ Corridors of inefficiencies and corrupt practices to enhance the ease-of-doing business. Therefore, I would like to reiterate my appeal to everybody or groups that still nurse reservations to kindly see reasons and cooperate to ensure that the Ports Corridors are free for ease of movement and conduct of businesses,” he added.
Jime stated that the second phase of the operation will cover Apapa – Tin-Can – Coconut – Berger Yard – Mile 2 – Orile – Ijora axis, noting that the 15.6km road is littered with shanties and trucks parked indiscriminately thereby causing untold hardships to other commuters and creating opportunity for extortions and other forms of corrupt practices by both state and non-state actors.
Also speaking at the event, the Lagos State Commissioner of Transportation, Dr. Frederic Oladeinde assured that Lagos State will continue to give its backing to ensure that the corridors of traffic gridlock that has made it difficult to access the ports will be eliminated.
His words: “As part of the commitment of Lagos State government, we have commissioned the Bola Ahmed Tinubu park to be able to take over 2,500 trucks. I also plead with the PSTT which has focused more on the in-bound traffic. I want us to work together to remove the challenges affecting the out-bound movement of trucks.”
On his part, the National Coordinator of PSTT, Mr. Moses Fadipe stated that “Operation Free the Ports’ Corridors” is the third in the series of activities in monitoring the implementation of the Nigeria Port Process Manual (NPPM).
“We would appreciate the support of the ministry to assist in pressing on the sister agencies to Shippers’ Council to also shoulder some of the financial and logistical responsibilities of the task team. At the moment, the burden of funding the task team is solely on the NSC despite its paucity of income. Suffice to say that the imperative of multi-agency support for logistical and personnel needs of the task team is more relevant now considering that the new operational phase we have flagged off,” Fadipe said.
He stressed that the intervention of NPA and NIMASA will be greatly appreciated in this regard, adding that the PSTT required more pick-up vans in the fleet to aid the operation more effectively.
The Chairman, Apapa Local Government, Mrs Idowu Sebanjo, observed that Apapa environs has observed a new ambience of serenity, peace and orderliness since the PSTT commenced the first phase of its operations.
Noting that residents and business persons in Apapa should be excited with what is going on, she stressed that a lot of people aren’t aware of PSTT and its achievements, hence, the need for more publicity on the campaign.
Her words: “Children formerly left their homes by 6am just get to schools on time, yet they get home by 9pm at night. Several residents had jettisoned Apapa in the past but things are changing now. Apapa is looking more cleaner, peaceful and serene. We want to make Apapa a highly sought after residence ahead of Ikoyi and other locations.”