By Francis Ugwoke
The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola has said that except the activities of trucks or Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) were regulated, they will continue to be a big menace to the society.
Noting the importance of HGVs in the country, Fashola however said that trucks have created traffic gridlocks and destruction of the road pavements.
Fashola who spoke recently on the occasion of the National Summit on Truck Transit Parks, TTPs, through the Director of HighWay in his Ministry, Engr. Chukwunwike Uzo, said some road pavements have collapsed as a result of the recklessness of drivers.
He accused the drivers of turning carriageways and shoulders of highways into parking lots.
He said, “the Apapa Wharf road is a case in point where HGV drivers wanting to access the Tank Farms and Apapa Port have turned the road carriageways and shoulders into parking lots. This has resulted in traffic gridlock affecting businesses in the Apapa environs and increasing travel time for commuters traversing the road. Equally, the parking on the road by HGVs has taken its toll on Apapa-Oshodi Federal Highway in the complete collapse of the road especially at the Apapa end of the road. This scenario is noticed along most other Federal Roads especially at Tafa along the Abuja –Kaduna Dual Carriageway and Obollo Afor along the Makurdi–Enugu Road. It is pertinent to note that the premature failure of the road comes at a huge financial burden to the Government with dire socio-economic consequences to the nation”.
Fashola disclosed that the Federal Government in a bid to curb the menace of HGVs at the Apapa –Tincan Island area of Lagos embarked on the construction of a 340 HGV capacity Trailer Park opposite Tincan Port, Apapa.
He explained that the Trailer Park which is the first of its magnitude in Nigeria is expected to be completed within the 2017 fiscal year.
“ The Park when completed is expected to decongest the area and improve economic activities”, he said.
He called for a similar Truck Transit Parks to be replicated on major arterial routes and roads leading to neighbouring countries like the Lagos Badagry road (Benin border) Ikom–Mfum road (Cameroun border) and Kazaure–Kongolam (Niger border).
The Minister added that due to the financial outlay of these Trailer Transit Parks and viability of providing the parks, it would be an attractive venture for the private sector to participate.
The Transport Minister, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, had on the occasion of the Summit given reasons why the federal government is interested in the establishment of TTPs in many parts of the country, explaining that the scheme would address issues of high statistics of road accidents.
Amaechi said the federal government was particularly concerned about high statistics of accidents and loss of cargo occasioned by bad road.
The Minister pointed out environmental degradation as one negative impact of excessive usage of roads by heavy duty vehicles.
He disclosed that government has discovered that the provision of truck transit parks, also referred to as truck terminals or rest stops would address issues associated with accidents, loss of cargo and environmental degradation.
He said, “the high statistics of road accidents and loss of cargo occasioned by bad road is of concern to government. Environmental degradation is another negative impact of excessive usage of roads by heavy duty vehicles. It is to this end that the imperative of providing truck transit parks comes to the fore necessitating the Federal Ministry of Transportation and the Nigerian Shippers’ Council to convene this National Summit on the theme “Truck Transit Parks (TTP): Providing Critical Infrastructure for Trade and Transit in Nigeria”.
Amaechi disclosed that the plans of the government in the next couple of years would be to develop TTPs at Lokoja, Obollo-Afor, Ogere, Jebba and Port Novo Creek in Lagos state as an alternative strategy to address the menace of truck congestion at the seaports in Apapa and Port Harcourt.
These, he said, will complement the one in Ore Sunshine City in Ondo State and the ones being processed by the Kaduna State Government at Mararaban Jos, Buruku and Tapa on the Kaduna –Abuja Highway.
He said the federal government was inviting the buy-in of state governors to fast track the provision and process of developing these critical road infrastructure.
The Transport Minister said the federal government will ensure that TTP projects independently developed by state governments and private investors meet a minimum standard in the number of facilities provided at TTP sites.
According to him, the federal government will also ensure that TTPs were economic and business hub creating wealth and employment for the teeming population particularly Nigerian youths.
He also said the neglect of the rail lines for about three decades, the increasing volume of trade and transit within and across the country’s borders, and the increasing usage of Nigerian ports as transit port by landlord neighbouring countries of Niger and Chad gave rise to dependence on road haulage as the major means of long distance transportation of goods.
He added that though the federal government is currently addressing the railways frontally through the construction of new standard gauge rail lines, revamping of existing narrow gauge eastern and western rail lines and refurbishing of coaches and wagons, road haulage will for sometime continue to be the major means for long distance transportation of goods and commodities.
Stressing the need for TTPs, the Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, SAN, said if the activities of big vehicles were not well managed, they will become a big menace to the society.
Fashola who was represented on the occasion by the Director of HighWay in his Ministry, Engr. Chukwunwike Uzo said Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) cause serious traffic gridlocks and destroy road pavement.
Fashola said Apapa Wharf road was a case in point where HGV drivers wanting to access the tank farms and Apapa port have turned the road carriageways and shoulders into parking lots.
He said that it was in a bid to curb the menace of HGVs at the Apapa-Tin Can area of Lagos that forced the federal government to embark on the construction of a 340 HGV capacity trailer part opposite Tin Can Island port.
“The park when completed is expected to decongest the area and improve economic activities. Similar TTPs should be replicated on major arterial routes and roads leading to neighbouring countries like the Lagos Badagry road (Benin border), Ikom Mfum road(Cameroun border) and Kazaure-Kongolam Takeita (Niger border)”, he said.
He called on the private investors to participate in the project as a result of the high financial outlay of the TTPs.
The Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu had also called on the Dangote Group and other companies into oil refinery projects to consider investing in TTPs.
Kachikwu said that his become necessary considering the number of trucks and oil tankers owned by these companies that are on the road on daily basis.
He called on the firms to consider such project between 2019 and 2020 because of the refinery projects which will lead to more tankers being on the road.