NPA assures of solution to Apapa gridlock, intensifies efforts

Posted by News Express | 3 August 2019 | 1,377 times

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•NPA MD Hadiza Bala Usman

The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) is intensifying efforts to help find a permanent solution to the perennial gridlock in Apapa, Lagos, where the country’s main ports are located.

NPA Managing Director Hadiza Bala Usman disclosed this while fielding questions from newsmen in Lagos on Friday.

She explained that the Authority has taken action both inside and outside the ports, expressing the hope that these steps would eventually result in solving the problem which recently defied presidential intervention.

Ms Bala Usman identified the factors responsible for the menace to include slow cargo clearing processes arising from lack of scanner and the absence of a centralised clearing system; lack of trailer parks, bad roads and lack of rail infrastructure.

“Why we are where we are regarding the Apapa gridlock is because 90% of cargo that comes to the country is evacuated by road. Elsewhere, you evacuate cargo through road, rail line and pipeline.

“The solution lies in the intermodal transportation of cargo that we have been exploring in the past one and a half years,” the NPA MD said.

She noted that even though most of the things needed to be done to end the Apapa traffic crisis are beyond the purview of NPA since its work stops with the loading or discharge of cargo, the Authority has undertaken wide-ranging measures to help solve the problem.

One of these, Ms Bala Usman said, is in improving the road infrastructure in the Apapa area, which recently saw the Authority partnering with two other corporate behemoths operating in the area to reconstruct a strategic 5km access road.     

On other steps being taken by NPA to solve the problem, she said: “We are ensuring that the rail line by the Federal Government goes into the ports. The project is ongoing but will take over a year to complete.

“We are encouraging use of the waterways by granting licences for barges for evacuation of cargo. We are also encouraging tank farms, trailer parks and the call-up system for trucks.

“If you don’t have trailer parks and loading bays outside the port environment where the trucks are parked, they will stay there on the roads.

“We are intending to licence trailer parks. We don’t have land but are doing our own bit. We cancelled one of our leases and converted it to a loading bay.

“We are working to have big trailer parks built and operated by the private sector. Lagos doesn’t have land but Ogun State is willing to give land and I have met with Governor Dapo Abiodun over the issue.”

The NPA MD noted that traffic builds up in Apapa from Tuesday to Friday but the roads are free during the weekend and on Monday when Customs and associated government agencies are not clearing cargo at the ports. Along this line, “we have made a recommendation for relevant agencies of government to work everyday so as to ease the traffic situation,” she disclosed.

She equally spoke of efforts by NPA to encourage the use of other ports across the country by importers but noted that the Authority cannot force anyone to use any particular port for his or her shipments.

She appealed for patience and cooperation by all stakeholders, including the general public, assuring that that the Apapa gridlock would be a thing of the past when the wide range of measures being taken by the Authority and other stakeholders, including the Federal Government, begin to yield fruits.

Source: News Express

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