Approaches to most ports of the world, especially those which have become or still striving to become regional hub centres as Nigeria is currently struggling to be, are beauty to behold.
Their approaches are sane, clean, inviting and aesthetic in beauty. This is apart from the fact that those ports are efficient in service delivery.
But Nigerian ports, especially the Lagos ports which are the focal points of port operations in Nigeria, are everything but which modern ports should look like.
Nigerian ports are greatly challenged.
Apart from lacking in efficient service delivery, which has become their hallmark over the years, the approaches to these ports, especially the Apapa and Tin Can Island ports, the flagship ports in the country, are a study in environmental degradation: dirty, filthy and stinking.
Apart from the malignant but legendary traffic gridlock which has made the access to the ports a nightmare, their approaches have become an eyesore.
A visitor to the Lagos ports of Apapa and Tin can will be greeted by the offensive stench from the mounting heaps of refuse which litter the common user arears at the approaches to these ports.
The visitor will equally be assualted by the motley human wastes of excreta from where offensive odour oozes as a result of open defecation at the ports approaches.
This absurdity is the common feature at the two approaches to the Lagos ports from the Western Avenue/Ijora Bridge and Mile 2/Tin Can Road axis.
We are scandalised by this ugly spectacle that has become part of the landscape of the Lagos ports which account for over 70 percent of imports into the country.
We are equally disturbed by the open defecation within the port vicinity and the mountain of refuse being generated by the people who ply their trade around the ports.
Open defecation had become a worrisome issue in Nigeria as the country ranks second to India in the world in this despicable habit.
According to the 2018 National Survey, 47m Nigerians, which is about 24 per cent of its population, are engaged in open defecation.
Lagos ports therefore have their fair share of this messy situation.
The truck drivers, tanker drivers and other street urchins who are lolling around the port areas have turned the common user approaches to the ports to their public toilets.
National Association of Truck Owners (NATO), Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria(RTEAN) and Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO) who ply their trade at the ports and whose members spend weeks on the access roads to the ports due to the gridlock, are worst culprits of open defecation on the port approaches.
Due to the non- availability of public convenience spots around the ports, these people, while waiting in queue to gain entrance to the ports to either load or discharge their consignments, always answer the call of nature in open spaces around the ports.
This has made the approaches to the ports a boulevard of offensive stench.
All the drivers of these tankers and containers-laden vehicles have no place to ease themselves except on the road.
Some even have their bath under the cover of their articulated vehicles.
Only few members of AMATO avail themselves of the small space for convenience at their secretariat.
This unhygienic practice is an invitation to outbreak of epidemic at the ports and the Apapa Port City.
This is because experts have said that each gram of faeces discharged by these people contains about 10,000,000 virus,1,000,000 bacteria, 1000 parasitic cysts and 100 parasite eggs.
For the ports which want to become the hub in the sub-region, not only must it be efficient in service delivery but must have clean and hygienic sorroundings.
The filthy environment of the Nigerian ports, especially the Lagos ports, is a huge minus on the efforts of government to position them as the hub centre for port operations in the region.
There must be collaborative efforts between the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) ,the port landlord and the Apapa Local Government to fight this menace and rid the ports and the Port City of the delibitating effects of environmental degradation.
To stop the open defecation among the truck drivers, mobile toilets should be provided around the ports vicinity where these drivers wait endlessly to gain access into the ports.
In addition, the NPA has the onerous task of eliminating endless queues of trucks along the port access roads, a responsibility which unfortunately has proved too much for the port authority over the years.
Apapa residents and operators at the ports should be safe guarded from possible out break of epidemic from this unwhosome practice that has made the environment of the Nigerian ports a theatre of refuse and open defecation.
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