In order to stem the upsurge of road crashes attributed to operations of heavy-duty vehicles in the metropolis, the Lagos State Government has proposed the implementation of route restrictions for trailer and truck drivers operating within the State, while their movement periods are restricted to night time.
Speaking at the stakeholders’ meeting with representatives of the Truck Driver Unions held at the Secretariat, Alausa, Ikeja, on Wednesday, the Commissioner for Transportation, Dr. Frederic Oladeinde, announced that the current administration has mapped out dedicated routes to be plied between 9:00 pm and 6:00 am daily.
He elaborated that the move was necessary as the Apapa in Lagos has been rendered less profitable for investors due to the gridlock and activities of truck drivers along the axis, appealing to the stakeholders to cooperate with the State Government to remedy the situation.
Oladeinde urged them to put aside their sentiments and think of other motoring public as the policy is not meant to cause rancour, but geared towards opening up the State for greater economic realities, adding that attitudinal change on the part of truck drivers is required to make progress.
The Commissioner implored the stakeholders to see issues raised as work in progress, while noting that discussions with the unions are ongoing until the grey areas are cleared.
The Special Adviser to the Governor on Transportation, Mr. Oluwatoyin Fayinka, declared that non-compliance from truck drivers will be met with the full weight of the Law and appropriate sanctions exerted on offenders, advising that they must utilise the grace period to get their acts together and conform with the directives.
While requesting the Nigerian Ports Authority to furnish the Ministry with information on the call-up schedule on daily basis, Fayinka maintained that it will also help control the influx of vehicles into Lagos, especially Apapa ports, and prevent the parking of tankers and trucks along road corridors with its attendant damage on the road infrastructure which contributes to traffic gridlock.
Fayinka further enjoined the operators to secure parks outside Apapa to curb the gridlock and work, hand in hand, with the State Vehicle Inspection Services (VIS) and the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) by ensuring their vehicles are Road Worthy with the warning that rickety vehicles will be impounded.
The representative of the Nigerian Ports Authority, (NPA) Mr. Ayodele Durowaye lauded the proposed initiative by the State Government, stating that the directive is not a new development, advising that a forum should be created to discuss the technicalities and draw solutions that will ensure safety and ease stakeholders’ operations.
On his part, the Lagos Sector Commander, Federal Road Safety Corps, Mr. Olumide Ogungbemide stated that the loss of life could not be equated to sentiments being raised by truckers, disclosing that only 8% of the operators have minimum safety requirements.
In the same vein, the General Manager, Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), Engr. Olajide Oduyoye and the Director, Vehicle Inspection Service (VIS), Engr. George Akin-Fashola appealed to the stakeholders to support the directive in consideration for the citizenry and prevent avoidable enforcement from the Government as the road infrastructure belongs to everyone.
He assured that the agencies are ready to work with the unions to get their members acquainted with safety requirements and help beef up their services in line with the provision of the Law on the safety of lives and property.
Speaking on the restricted routes for trucks and vehicle specifications, Director Transport Operations, Engr. Abdulhafis Toriola, clarified that any vehicle above 6ft with three sets of number plates is considered a Trailer and an Articulated Vehicle, explaining that Ikorodu road, Maryland, Costain and Funsho Williams avenue will be restricted to them.
Mr. Remi Ogunbgemi, responding on behalf of the union representatives, thanked the State Government for calling the meeting and appealed for support to the truckers with necessary infrastructure as well as a review of the directive, especially with respect to restriction of movement to night time.
He added the unions are also taking necessary steps to digitise their operations, such as using an electronic call-up system for trucks due at ports to reduce the number of trailers parked along the roads.
Some of the unions represented at the meeting include the Council Of Maritime Transport Union and Association (COMTUA), National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), Association of Maritime Transport Owners (AMATO), Allied Truck Transporter Association of Nigeria (ATTAN) and the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) among others.