The massive gridlock on Oshodi-Apapa Expressway has been blamed on the refusal of "powerful merchants" to obey a subsisting order of the Lagos State government restricting the movements of articulated vehicles in the State.
The government also attributed the logjam to an ongoing industrial action by a section of workers at the Apapa ports which has slowed down the pace of goods clearance as well as the slow pace of repair works on the roads leading to the ports.
“It is indeed pathetic that private firms seeking to make profit from legitimate commerce would continue to subject the citizens of Lagos State to horrendous pains in spite of the provision of holding bays for their trucks and tankers until it is their turn to pick goods at the ports,” Lagos State's commissioner for information Kehinde Bamigbetan said in a statement on Thursday.
Trucks and tankers have been occupying a section of the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway inward Mile 2 for more than two months.
But the numbers suddenly increased in the last five days with the queue stretching for more than four kilometres and the expressway completely blocked at some points.
"It is a total chaos," a commuter told The Guardian on Thursday. "I have to trek a four more than a kilometre to board a bus. It is either that or I stay in the hold-up for hours."
Lagos State Commissioner of Police Imohimi Edgal referred to the situation as a "national disaster". He said the command and other stakeholders will on Friday night deploy 3, 500 official, to the affected areas in order to ease the situation.
"We have sat together with relevant agencies to launch “Operation Restore Sanity on Lagos Roads” which will kick off on Friday by midnight," Edgal said.
Bamigbetan noted that the State will explore all avenues to make the truck drivers and owners obey the laws. He also urged the Nigerian government to use its power to force the truck owners to vacate the expressway.
He said: “If the powers of the State is inadequate to force these powerful merchants to obey the law, shall we also say that the Federal Government with all the forces at its command, is unable to protect residents of Lagos against this common threat?”