Truck drivers defy military, govt’s relocation order

Truck drivers still stationed their vehicles on the bridges

Two days after the 48-hour ultimatum issued to truck drivers to vacate the bridges/flyovers across Lagos metropolis expired, the drivers are yet to comply with the directives,

New Telegraph has learnt. As at yesterday, the trailer drivers still stationed their trucks on one side of the bridges, blaming gridlock occasioned by the on-going Apapa–Wharf road construction for their defiance. When New Telegraph took a tour of the road, the truck drivers still stationed their vehicles on the bridges, starting from Stadium, Alaka, Iponri flyovers on Funsho William road in the metropolis to Ijora bridges down to Apapa. One of the truck drivers, Mr. S. Abu, told New Telegraph that they (drivers) have no other place to park for now until their companies create a place for them.

Abu said that the traffic on Apapa-Wharf road was also compounded by the on-going construction work, urging the contractors in charge, A.G. Dangote, to expedite action on the project New Telegraph learnt that combined team of military and mobile police was on ground on Saturday to carry out the order. Some of the truck drivers, on sighting the officers, took to their heels, only for them to resurface soon.

The military towed some vehicles away, but as at yesterday, the trucks are back on the bridges. Lagos State Government and the Nigerian military had, last Wednesday, issued a 48-hour ultimatum to all truck drivers to vacate the bridges in the metropolis or face sanction.

The authorities said that the continuous parking of trucks on bridges was a national disaster in the waiting if not stopped. The ultimatum came at the instance of the Flag Officer Commanding, Western Naval Command, Apapa, Lagos, Sylvanus Abbah, who had earlier warned that terrorists could exploit the gridlock on the Apapa bridges to strike. According to him, the enormity of the gridlock would hinder security agencies from responding timely if there was an emergency around the area.

New Telegraph learnt that most of the trucks and oil tanker drivers have turned the flyovers/ bridges to parking spaces due to gridlock associated with Apapa-Wharf Road where they load. Oil tankers and trailers have taken over the Jibowu –Ojuelegba-Stadium, Alaka, Ijora and Apapa flyovers/ bridges as parking spaces, leaving commercial buses and private cars to struggle with one lane. Some of these bridges were built almost four decades ago to ease traffic in the state and reduce travelling time.

Apart from the derelict portions, some of the pillars holding the Apapa- Ijora Bridge, according to experts, have suffered structural defects before due to frequent fire incidents and erosion that have eroded the concrete parts and exposed the iron rods.

Meanwhile, structural engineers have raised the alarm that the continuous presence of stationary trucks/trailers with heavy loads on Lagos bridges portends great danger for residents, commuters and the environment. They warned that the bridges were not designed for load. According to them, the flyovers may give way if the trend is not checked.

Engineers warned that continuous parking of trucks on the bridges would shorten their lifespan and expose them to danger. Former President of the Nigerian Institution of Structural Engineers (NiStruct), Fadayomi Oreoluwa, warned that danger looms on Lagos bridges, except government moves to avert major catastrophes.

“When oil trucks/tankers park on Lagos bridges, the immediate implication is that there might be fire incident. When this occurs, the negative effect will be felt on the bridge, adjoining buildings, commuters and residents,” he told New Telegraph. He stated that Lagos bridges were not designed to carry sustained loads, adding that truck loads are supposed to be moving and not stationary.

“Loads of these stationary trucks and trailers will affect the foundation of the bridges. It should not be encouraged,” Oreoluwa warned, noting that the problem emanated from the gridlock on Apapa- Wharf Road. The former NiStruct president called for immediate repairs of Apapa roads and other adjoining streets to prevent trailers from using bridges as parking space. When contacted, Federal Controller of Works in Lagos, Godwin Ekeh, an engineer, said that truck drivers have been warned not to park on bridges, but expressed worry that they have continued the practice.

“What concerns us is about slow movement of trucks on the bridges, so that there won’t be resonant,” he said. Ekeh explained that to avert resonant meant to prevent vibration that could cause natural frequency that would affect stability of the bridges. He disclosed that work would soon commence on Leventis Bridge, Lagos. Former President of Building Collapse Prevention Guild, Mr. Kunle Awobodu, a builder, said the bridges were not designed to carry permanent load, but for transit weight. “In building, you are sure that you have some light load and heavy load, but bridge is designed for a transit load.

When lorry parked and loaded containers are on the bridge for days, it is not good for the bridge,” he said. Chairman, Nigerian Society of Engineers, Lagos Branch, Akin Akintola, decried incessant parking of trucks on Lagos flyovers. He said stationary load on bridges would have a long term damaging effects on the facility.

Vice President, National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), Abdulahi, Mohammed Innua, gave reason why truck drivers park on the bridges. He said: “We are not happy that trucks are parked on Lagos bridges from Ojuelegba to Apapa, but the incessant gridlock and presence of various security agencies of government parading as task force, coupled with ongoing construction necessitated the action.” Apart from gridlock, Innua alleged that security agencies were using the opportunity to extort tanker drivers. “Anywhere you see those trucks/trailers parked, even on those bridges, they pay to park there.

All these multiple security agencies collect money from them,” he alleged. Asked the amount being collected from truck drivers for parking on the bridge, one of the drivers, who identified himself simply as Yusuf, said they pay not less than N1,000. According to him, the security agencies would not come to them directly, but that they have agents that collect on their behalf.

He lamented that the gridlock on Apapa-Wharf road is causing tanker drivers a lot of money. According to him, rather than making four or five trips in a week, he hardly makes two. “We are losing money because of this. Our salary is being calculated by the number of trips you make in a week,” Yusuf lamented, saying that most of them spent days on the road. Another truck driver, Sanusi Mohammed, wants government to fix all roads leading to Apapa port in order to reduce gridlock and save travel time.

But hawkers and food vendors are happy about the development. One of them, Anike, a sachet water and soft drinks hawker, said the gridlock and presence of stationary truck drivers have benefited her. According to her, the situation has availed her opportunity to sell more products and make enough profit without stress.


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on 13 March 2018