Lagos Ports Access Roads: Killing the Goose that lays the Golden Eggs

 

It is no gainsaying that the Lagos ports access roads have become a national embarrassment.
The roads have also become death traps that have claimed many lives over the years.

It is disheartening to note that the roads leading to the ports that generate the second highest revenue for government have been left to depreciate and rot to a lamentable level.

It is instructive to note that Lagos ports, which comprise two of the biggest and busiest ports in the West African region, generate more than 70 percent of the Customs revenue that have in recent times hit the trillion naira mark.

It is also the heart beat of the Nigerian maritime industry that is reputed to account for the second highest revenue yield for the government after oil and gas sector.

The same maritime industry which stakeholders claimed is capable of generating over N7 trillion annually if its potentials are maximally developed and exploited.

Sadly, the roads that lead to this goldmine, the cash cow, have suffered criminal neglect by successive governments over the years.

The two main access roads leading to this honey pot have over the years been left in a terrible state of disrepair that had caused physical, psychological and mental agony to the users.

It has also led to the astronomical increases in the cost of doing business at these ports as evacuation of goods from the ports has become cumbersome, laborious, painfully slow and expensive.

Even though, attempts are currently being made by the incumbent administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to fix these roads, nigeriamaritime360.com is still saddened by the long years of neglect which have led to avoidable humongous human and economic losses.

It is an irony that successive governments failed to see the economic importance of making motorable the access roads to the Lagos ports that have proved to be one of the pillars of government earnings.

We are however consoled by the fact that there is an attempt by government to fix these roads after years of neglect.

We consider this attempt laudable and a step that can assuage several years of pains and sorrow suffered by port users.

Even at that, we consider government intervention painfully slow and hesitant which was long in coming to end the carnage on those roads.

It took the courage and commitment of the present management of the NPA to ensure the rehabilitation of the Ijora-Wharf road axis of the access road was completed with its financial support of about N7 billion when the Federal Ministry of Works was foot dragging on the funding.

Also, it was the combined efforts of Dangote and Flour Mills, on special barter arrangement and by virtue of being two of the biggest operators in the ports whose services were being affected by the bad road, who provided the funds to carry out the rehabilitation works.

The same procedure is also being adopted to fix the Oshodi-Mile Two -Tin-Can axis with Dangote being the major contractors and financiers.

This special arrangement which sees the tax payable by Dangote converted to fund the roads, still shows lack of commitment on the part of government.

Even though, such barter arrangement is allowed and could be used, but we queried why government should resort to such strategy which would have made the roads suffer longer period of neglect if there was no Dangote to make such offer.

Does that mean the Lagos ports access roads are not important enough to merit financial appropriation from government?

What happens to the Customs revenue, NPA returns and NIMASA takings that run into trillions of naira that are being remitted to the Federation accounts annually?

We are saddened by this apparent display of apathy of successive governments toward Lagos ports access roads which has caused long years of abandonment.

Despite the long years of neglect, we are gladdened by the current efforts to halt the deterioration of the roads through the on-going rehabilitation works at the Mile Two-Tin-Can axis while the Ijora-Wharf axis has since been completed.

We must however quickly add that we are not satisfied with the current level of work on the roads which we consider slow, considering the excruciating pains being experienced daily by port users who wish to access the ports from that axis.

We admonish the contractors to quicken the pace of work on the road and quickly bring an end to the daily mystery of the users.

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