The new reality on Oshodi-Apapa Expressway by Eniola Opeyemi

FILE: Vice President Yemi Osinbajo visits Apapa to review progress of the traffic gridlock, Lagos.
FILE: Vice President Yemi Osinbajo visits Apapa to review progress of the traffic gridlock, Lagos.

By Eniola Opeyemi

Reading through the editorials on Tuesday, it was obvious that the Guardian newspaper had misrepresented the experiences of commuters transiting daily through the Apapa – Oshodi expressway, as well as the views of the residents.

The editorial page of the Guardian was nothing but a contraption of mere assumptions and personal thoughts, written clearly from a preconceived and one-sided perspective.

As a resident who daily transits the same road, I can say that the presidential order has not attained its optimum but the story far from what it used to be.

The presidential task team has ensured the return of orderliness, though there was a brief setback due to the closure of the land borders and more goods now getting concentrated on the Apapa sea port.

Also, apart from the ongoing road works on Commercial Avenue, Liverpool and parts of Mile 2, floods have caused a setback, thereby, forcing motorists to make detours to alternative routes around Ajegunle and Ijora Badiya.

After the repair of the roads, it is obvious the traffic situation will bear a new look, bringing to fruition the expected results of the presidential order.

When the news of the presidential order became public knowledge, virtually every person that has a business or something doing on the Apapa-Oshodi expressway were quite elated.

The Presidential team led by the Executive Vice-Chairman, Hon. Kayode Opeifa, has performed brilliantly, and the road in question has not gotten such focused attention until this bold line of action was taken by the current administration.

During an interview with the newsmen on the progress made so far by the Presidential Task Team, recently, the haulage business owners operating within and around the ports in Apapa, lauded the presidential task team set up to restore order in Apapa.

The truck owners also faulted allegations of sharp practices levelled against the presidential task team in some quarters, saying rather, the team has done well by restoring sanity and orderliness around Apapa, as motorists can now enter and exit the ports environment with more ease than witnessed in the immediate past.

Olalaye Thompson, chairman of Amalgamated Container Trucks Owners said: “Giving more insight into what the present task team has done, businesses and residents of Apapa are better off today.

He added that “the commuters within Apapa would readily testify to the fact that the presidential task team has done a good job since it began its operation.”

The editorial of the Guardian also erred by quoting a statement credited to the Lagos State Governor, but which has been debunked. This is not just an height of partisanship but it also represents the thought of an opposing force who, rather than proffering solution, has preferred to blindly condemn all actions of this administration.

The presence of the Lagos state government can also be felt, the daily traffic reports from the axis and the deployment of the men of the Lagos State Traffic Management Agency and all necessary support are so visible.

While commuting along the Oshodi – Apapa expressway, I didn’t only witness an easy ride and less traffic, but I also sighted the Commissioner of Police alongside members of the Presidential team on field monitoring activities.

The revolution in the rail sector will definitely address a very good percentage of the traffic situation, and progress is already being made in this regard, based on eyewitness accounts and information gathered through daily reports.

Indeed, investigative Journalism is basically about FACT-FINDING and something akin to paper-tigerism.

In case we have forgotten so soon, Nigerian ports system has capacity for 35 million tonnes of cargo, but the cargo it receives amounts to 90 million metric tonnes per year. 90 per cent of these cargo arrive at Lagos ports.

Nigerian ports were reported to have recorded 86.6 metric tonnes of cargo throughput as at 2014, and the Apapa port caters for the largest percentage of cargo.

However, according to the former Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Habib Abdullahi, the figure represented an increase of 12.64 percent over the 2013 figure of 76.9 million metric tonnes. Obviously, the increase is being doubled in 2019.

The Editorial Board of The Guardian opinion should have taken some time to interview the commuters, the truck owners and various individuals/groups who have businesses to do at the port and along Oshodi – Apapa expressway. It won’t be out of place if the Team is invited to the Rutam House and engaged in a more effective interaction, rather than writing a one-sided editorial.

It is crystal clear that the views of the editorial board of The Guardian only reflects its thoughts. While just one terminal was mentioned in the whole article; about eight (8) others are presently functional or undergoing final touches.

The implications of the good work done through the presidential order is that the team has successfully managed to relieve the overburdening of Nigeria’s most populated port.

As a commuter and resident, I submit that the editorial opinion of the Guardian newspaper of 26th of November, 2019 titled: “Apapa and a failed presidential order” was not only biased, but failed the essence of thorough investigative journalism.

Eniola Opeyemi writes from Lagos State