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Will sanity ever return to Apapa on completion of Port Access Roads?


Chinazor Megbolu   |  

The Nigeria’s maritime industry has been the sustaining force of the nation’s economy after the rage of Covid-19 that bedevilled the global business.

Shipping, terminal operations and other ancillary businesses make up the maritime industry. 

The premier port, Apapa and Tincan Island Port are the major ports in Nigeria that receive about 70 percent of the nation’s import cargoes.

Meanwhile, the Lagos ports have been bedeviled by one challenge or the other, especially infrastructural deficits, extortions, policy summersault and traffic gridlock.

This menace has in a great way hampered economic prospects which the localisation of the ports is expected to bring to the arena.

Within ten years, the once vibrant social life of Apapa has been wiped off by the recurring traffic gridlock.

As a result, many businesses have been badly affected so much that business outlets closed down while some moved away from the arena.

As at today, there are many unoccupied properties in Apapa as their occupiers have abandoned them due to the hardship brought by the malignant traffic gridlock.

Extortion by security agents of truck and tanker drivers has become a daily occurrence on the access roads.

With the  electronic call-up system and truck parks still not in place,  will the congestion or gridlock not persist, even when the road construction is completed?

A former member, Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN)’s Freight Forwarders Consultative Forum, Mr. Chidi Anthony Opara  said that the completion of the access roads would only bring temporary reprieve as the ports will still witness the perennial congestion due to the absence of critical support system.

According to him; “even though very much necessary, the port access roads when completed would nevertheless bring temporary reprieve because there is always going to be an increase in vehicular traffic in and out of the port as time goes on” 
He also canvassed for a rail system to follow suit as the access roads are near completion, stressing it will go a long way to bring sanity to the area.

“The access roads being constructed, a rail system should be constructed to and from the port to complement the road transport system. 
“This would go a long way in returning sanity to the system,” he said. 
Opara, however, explained further the early completion of the port access roads should however be paramount. 

“If the aforementioned suggestion of adding a rail system to complement road transportation is heeded, importers and exporters who left because of the gridlock would return,” Opara maintained. 

Another stakeholder and a chieftain of the Association of Licenced Customs Agents (ANLCA), Mr. Pius Ujubuonu during phone conversation, noted that from history, the country would learn from the effects of poor planning.

According to him; “if Nigeria would learn from history, they will be able to see the effect of poor planning.

“The infrastructural decay was a result of poor planning, wrong assessment of the results of changes.

“The Apapa wharf is a river port, the quay and harbour were not fashioned for the volume of cargoes that eventually began to call, post concession”.

“The wise steps that were supposed to have been taken are carrying out deliberate change management initiatives”.

He also pointed out that it’s step by step that the  terminals would be reinforced, expanded as well as the berths reinforced and expanded for more cargo volume.

Ujubuonu also stated that the port access roads ought to have been done before now.

“What we have is allowing the problem and start solving it amidst chaos, this presents us as a people who approach projects without planning,” Ujubuonu said.

Moreover, he said that on completion, the roads won’t bring the needed sanity being sought due to road decay for lack of provision of alternative routes during construction.

“Completion of the road certainly does not solve the problem as the roads will have started decaying, no alternative routes provided while construction is ongoing. 

“The lanes that are ready will be overused before the alternate road will be ready. The port is a business hub, that will always attract business. 

“The snag however, is that some may migrate to other places where they find more tolerable infrastructures,” he said.

There should be room for long term planning especially in the areas of efficient electronic call-up system, enough space for truck parks, which will reduce person to person contact that may curb extortion, barges and railway operations if sanity must return to Apapa ports, the stakeholders declared.

© 2020, maritimemag. All rights reserved.

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