- Declare Emergency on Lagos Roads, Buhari Urged
President Muhammadu Buhari has been urged to support the management of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) in finding a solution to the gridlock on the Apapa/Tin Can Island roads to reduce the hardship the road users encounter.
The problems of moving in and out of the ports and their environs were high, importers, motorists and the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) said, had increased, urging Buhari to declare emergency on the road
The stakeholders said there was an urgent need to fix the Tin Can Island road as the NPA, Dangote Group and Flour Mills Plc embark on reconstructing the entire Wharf Road.
They said the deplorable state of Apapa roads was hampering access to the seaports and affecting businesses around the area.
They commended the board and the management of the NPA for injecting N1.8 billion in fixing the Apapa road, which hinders access to the ports.
Successive administrations have been criticised for being non-challant to the gridlock on the roads.
The importers and clearing agents said they were happy that NPA was working on the road to make it motorable.
An importer, Mr. Adeyemi Adeleke, said the Federal Government should complement the effort of the NPA.
“To tackle the problems, which we attribute to the poor port access road and the nefarious activities of tanker drivers and operators of articulated vehicles, the Federal Government needs to declare an emergency on the road so that we can enjoy the support of other government agencies like the NPA.
“Although the roads leading to the ports are in bad shape, we must also understand that the problem on that road comes from the tankers and containerised truck drivers who go to the ports to lift fuel and others. So, it is necessary to appreciate the bold step being taken by the NPA because it is not the only government agency generating money from the ports. We have Customs and others. Therefore, it is inaccurate and uncharitable for anybody to say that NPA is not doing enough to solve the problem road users face on that road or that the agency has lost the battle.
“The problem from the port was that vehicles that used to park in the port have been driven out by the concessionaires and they have no option than to park on the road to gain access into the port,” Adeleke said.
ANLCA President, Prince Olayiwola Shittu, said the bad roads were causing avoidable accidents and man-hour losses.
He said the bad roads were affecting economic activities and the health of the road users.
“Everyday, importers, clearing agents and other port users sit for hours trying to get in or out of Apapa and this is causing a lot of stress that can lead to various health problems.
“Apart this, the additional cost the importers pay to terminal operators and the revenue the Federal Government is losing due to these unnecessary delays are serious issues that need to be addressed o make the ports attractive in the sub-region.
Mr. Sunday Collins, a banker, urged the government to repair the road.
“Everyday, we spend several hours on this road before we get to our offices and by the time we get there, we are already exhausted; we are really suffering.
“It is difficult for commuters to access Tin Can due to the road.
“Buses coming from Oshodi stop stop before Coconut bus stop because of the failed sections of the road. Commuters from Oshodi pay N150 or N200 instead of N100 and are dropped off at West Minister bus stop from where they take bikes to first gate of Tin-Can port and beyond. The monetary issue is one, but the danger people face on this road is a matter of life and death as many people, including journalists, have been either killed or injured by truck drivers on the road.
“Apart from the risk of taking commercial motorcycles through those gullies, road users also face the risk of accidents because containers fall around there frequently,” Collins said.
Also a senior official of one of the terminals at the Tin-Can port, who craved anonymity, urged President Buhari to fix the road.
“It was reported few days ago that the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) Tin Can Island Port Command generated N183 billion from the port between January and August. The figure excludes the amount generated by the Apapa Customs Command and other government agencies at the port,” the official said.
NPA’s Assistant General Manager Corporate and Strategic Communications Division, Ibrahim Nasiru, said the dilapidated condition of the road, which has been like that for about two decades, was a thing of concern to the Authority, whose prime facilities are located in Apapa axis.
“This accounts for the Authority’s decision to collaborate with other stakeholders who agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding facilitated by the Federal Ministry of Power Works and Housing to reconstruct the entire Wharf Road. These stakeholders include the Nigerian Ports Authority, Dangote Group and Flour Mills Plc.
“Although the repair of roads is not the statutory responsibility of the Authority, it has committed N1.8 billion to the reconstruction and contractors from Messers AG Dangote Construction Company were mobilised to site in July 2017.
“As a result of this, the stretch of road for the outbound lane (Ijora Bridge-Barracks Junction) has been condoned off as work has commenced.
“It was in anticipation of the congestion that the reconstruction would cause that NPA Managing Director, Ms Hadiza Bala Usman, set up a committee chaired by the General Manager, Western Ports on the decongestion of the port’s access roads.
“The committee include representatives of the Lagos State government, the Federal Road Safety Corps, Nigerian Army, Nigerian Navy, Ports Police Command, and Department of State Security Services and other major stakeholders, including truckers as mainly represented by the Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMARTO)
“To further alleviate the envisaged congestion, the Authority awarded the contract for palliative works on Creek Road to Messers CGC Nigeria Limited.
“Palliative works was carried out on the damaged portion of the roadway and is designated as an alternative route in and out of the Lagos Port Complex. Further repairs were carried out on other alternative routes around the corridor
“In addition, realising the need for a bleeder route to relieve pressure on Wharf road during construction, the General Manager, NPA Western Zone heads a committee of all terminal operators, millers and other stakeholders, which worked to fashion out ways of fixing the Tin Can axis route with enduring palliatives works while the wharf road construction is ongoing.
“The Authority is aware of the situation on the access roads and assures all users of the ports that everything possible is being done to alleviate the situation,” Nasiru said.
But a truck driver, Emma Okwudili, said the government knew what to do if they cared about the sufferings of people in the area.
“This road is very important to the government because of the ports and the government is making a huge amount of money from the ports, which they can use in fixing the road and that is why we, the truck drivers, are supporting those calling on President Buhari to declare emergency on the road.
“You can see that this road is bad and there is no way to avoid accidents here because of the gullies,” he said.