Segun Oladipupo |
Despite the legendary might of the Federal government which it deployed in recent times to curtail the malignant traffic gridlock on Apapa port access road, the monster has returned with force and fury.
The few months of respite enjoyed by port users as a result of the activities of the presidential task force on Apapa Traffic crisis has relapsed to renewed agony, pains and sorrow as the much dreaded articulated vehicles are back on the roads.
Traffic on the port access roads always snowball into congestion in the port and high cost of transporting goods from the port.
Stephen Ibe of Stephens Global lamented that the cost of moving cargoes from Apapa port to other parts of Lagos now costs about N600, 000 from about N100, 000.
He added that an agent has to part with above one million naira to move cargo from Lagos Port to Port Harcourt or Nnewi for instance.
He maintained that the agents are helpless and their hands are tied because if the cargoes continue to remain in the port, it will attract more demurrage.
The perennial bad road has been a constant phenomenon as the agent of traffic along the port access roads and some other factors have reared their ugly heads too.
Most recent s the ongoing rehabilitation of roads surrounding the port.
The Coconut axis is under rehabilitation, the Apapa end of Tincan road as well as the Liverpool road to Barracks. Traffic have been diverted leading to vehicles jostling for one part of the road.
Recently, the leadership of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) threatened to embark on strike because of the slow pace of work by the contractors.
Some stakeholders have also reportedly blamed lack of adequate monitoring on the contractors as the cause of the unnecessary delays on the ongoing rehabilitation works on the corridor.
The stakeholders said the progress of work done does not commensurate with the time spent on the work so far.
Supporting the view, the Lagos state Vice Chairman, Dry Cargo, NARTO, Inuwa Mohammed Abdullahi said that the bad spots especially at Coconut is a set back to the progress made so far.
Accordibg to him, if a truck gets stuck in one of the numerous potholes in the area, it will lead to obstruction of other trucks using the road.
He added that another major cause of traffic resurgence in Apapa is lack of adequate holding bays by the shipping line agencies.
He therefore called on the federal government to formulate a policy that will mandate the shipping agents to have holding bays that will be enough to contain their empty containers to avoid contesting the roads with truck laden with empties.
Inuwa said that the presidential task force has tried its best but incapacitated by the road construction works ongoing.
He added that it was the duty of the Nigerian Ports Authority to issue call up to trucks while the task force clear the roads and if the truck is issued a call up and the terminal has nowhere to put the container, it can do little or nothing.
He said, “But the main factor that is causing gridlock now is that we understand that there is road reconstruction ongoing and when you look, you will see a lot of diversions and you can see that from the second gate coming outward to Coconut is closed because of the construction and if you go down, going to Apapa, you will see that so many places are blocked which makes the trucks to jam-pack in one place on reaching diversion point very close to the port gate.
“And don’t forget that last two weeks, we witnessed influx of tankers as a result of the closure of the Satellite depot due to bad road. But I believe within the last two day, it has started to normalize because so many steps have been taken, the Executive Vice Chairman is almost on the road by himself controlling traffic, the Commissioner of Police, Odumosu is also on the road, same as AC Suleiman together with other members of the Presidential Task Team controlling traffic.
“Another issue is before the commencement of this work, the Federal Ministry of Works in a stakeholders’ meeting with the contractors promised us that before the commencement of reconstruction, the contractor will carry out palliative works on the alternative roads but today, there is nothing like that, all the alternative routes that are existing, trucks are falling there on daily basis, there is no palliative work on those alternative roads.
“The rubbles that were excavated from other construction sites which supposed to be used to fill up all those portholes are being sold away. So, if any container laddened truck fall or is hooked on this road, then the whole trucks will not move thereby affecting the movement of trucks that are coming out of the ports. It means that trucks will not go in and they will not go out.”
It was also gathered that the Lilypond terminal that was converted to holding bay for trucks has now been shunned by truckers as a result of the fracas that broke out recently between the task force personnel and hoodlums.
This led to loss of life and distruction of properties.
As a result, not many tanker drivers or owners are keen on using the place again.
As a result, most of them are back on the road.
In addition, the torrential rainfall in Lagos in the month of October, did not help matters as already bad roads get worse thereby making some parts of the road water logged and impassable.
The border closure which has diverted most of the goods that ought to come through land borders to the sea port has resulted to upsurge of cargoes in the ports, leading to attraction of more trucks to the port.
Recall that insignificant percentage of cargoes in the port are moved by rail hence the need for rails and barges to move some of the cargoes through land and water.
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