Posted by News Express | 23 September 2018 | 837 times
Some maritime stakeholders have urged the Federal Government to fast-track the ongoing reconstruction of access roads to Lagos ports to save the economy from losing N5 billion daily.
The stakeholders, speaking to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Saturday in Lagos, said the bad state of the roads was exerting pressure on the nation’s economy.
Mr Kayode Farinto, spokesman of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) said the gridlock on the roads had made clearing of cargo at Lagos ports more expensive than at the Republic of Benin port.
“The gridlock on our port access roads is capable of making potential investors take to ports in the neighbouring countries.
“After going through numerous agencies at the port to take delivery of cargo, you are faced with another task of conveying it to the warehouse.
“It may take the truck driver up to a week to come out of Apapa alone,” Farinto lamented.
Mr Emeka Enwelu, Chairman, Apapa Chapter, National Council of Managing Directors of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDNLCA) said the roads had become a nightmare.
According to him the Nigeria ports, before now, played host to cargoes going to neighbouring landlocked countries of Chad, Mali and Niger.
He regretted that such cargoes had stopped coming to the Apapa ports because of the unfriendly business environment and the bad state of the access roads.
“As shippers representative, you are obliged to give them situation report on the viability of their business here in comparison to other areas.
“Most of them after studying your feasibility on the transactions in Lagos ports prefer to take their goods to Cotonou port in Benin where they get better offers,” he said.
Enwelu said due to the inaccessibility of the port roads, many companies’ raw materials were trapped in transit, hence they could not maintain their production lines and relocated to other countries.
He said this led to loss of jobs and revenue to the federal government.
Mr Jonathan Nicol, President, Shippers’ Association Lagos State (SALS) said the country lost about N1 trillion annually to ports in neighbouring countries due to bad access roads to Lagos ports and the gridlock.
“There is massive diversion of Nigerian-bound cargo to neighbouring ports since over seven years that port users have been facing the deplorable condition of Apapa port access roads.
“There are also queues of vessels within the Lome waters awaiting call-up for berthing in Lagos ports.
“This will attract port congestion levy on Nigeria-bound cargo, which is no fault of the shippers.
“Demurrage on containers is increasing with no control from the respective maritime agencies. Importers and exporters are suffering,’’ Nicol explained.
Mr Bolaji Akinola, Chief Executive Officer of Ships & Ports Ltd., said in a recent report that the collapse of the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway led to an increase in the number of trucks using the narrow Apapa-Wharf road.
“This compounded the congestion on this stretch of road,” said Akinola.
NAN reports that the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway is the major entry and exit point for trucks accessing the Tin Can Island Port, the Apapa Port and several tank farms in the area.
Potholes dot the expressway and several portions of the road between Coconut, Sunrise Bus stops and around Danlami Garage outbound Wharf Road.
Potholes also dot portions of Leventis road, while craters dot the Naval Dockyard Road towards the Total Filling Station.
Some of the road users who spoke to NAN lamented the bad state of the roads, which they said had caused them a lot of hardship.
A resident of Apapa who simply identified herself as Lara described the situation as hellish.
“There is no better description of hell than what those of us living here face daily.
“It is usually war to leave my house and to return home because of the traffic, and it is all of these bad roads that are causing the problem,” she said.
The Chairman of Apapa Local Government Council, Mr Owolabi Adele, pointed out that no less than 82 companies had relocated out of Lagos due to the gridlock in Apapa.
Adele stated that as a result of the traffic congestion, the Apapa area had lost so much revenue, as residents had also abandoned their homes.
The Federal Controller of Works, Lagos, Mr Adedamola Kuti, blamed the bad state of the Apapa access roads on abuse of the roads and drains over the years, which resulted in flooding and degeneration.
Kuti said the abuse compounded flooding and caused the failure of several roads in the state.
“The Apapa-Oshodi Expressway has drains constructed but people have blocked all the drains and when there is flooding as a result of their activities, they begin to complain.
“I have several pictures here of drains we have cleaned up and residents would stuff them again overnight, it is terrible,” he said.
Kuti said there was a need for value reorientation among residents of Lagos to stop indiscriminate dumping of refuse in the drains.
NAN reports that most of the Apapa access roads were built over 40 years ago without reconstruction to accommodate the growing needs of the ports.
For instance, the four-kilometre Apapa-Wharf road, built when the port was expanded in 1975, had not witnessed any major reconstruction until June 2017, when the contract for its reconstruction was awarded to A. G. Dangote.
The reconstruction of the road is estimated to cost N4.3 billion, with the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) providing N1.8 billion, while Dangote Group and Flour Mills would provide N2.5 billion.
Ms Hadiza Bala Usman, Managing Director, NPA, said on Aug. 31 that work on the road had reached 85 per cent completion, and that it would be completed within four to six weeks.
She said the Federal Government also approved the reconstruction of the 35 kilometres Apapa-Oshodi Expressway on September 12, 2017, at the cost of N72 billion, to be completed within 24 months.
The road network comprises Creek Road, Liverpool Road, Marine Beach, all in Apapa, to Mile 2, Oshodi, Oworonshoki to the Lagos end of the Toll Gate, Ibadan Expressway.
Mr. Babatunde Fashola, Minister of Power, Works and Housing, said the road was given to A. G. Dangote on Private Public Partnership, PPP, basis, to rebuild using concrete, with a 10-year tax holiday.
He added that the project would take care of most of the problems of road degeneration on the axis as it was going to be a major reconstruction.
Capt. Emmanuel Iheanacho, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Integrated Oil and Gas Nigeria Ltd. expects the Federal Government to embark on urgent development of port infrastructure, development of additional roads and redesigning of ports environment. (NAN)
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