MANAGING Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman, has expressed worries over the immotorable state of roads leading to the Apapa and Tin Can wharfs, which are the main gates to the nation’s economy.
Usman who was reacting to the unprecedented traffic jam that brought about lull and inactivity in the Apapa business for two weeks in Lagos state, urged the federal government to pay priority attention to every process that would lead to an improvement in the condition of access roads into Apapa Ports.
The NPA boss implored the federal government to declare an emergency on the situations of roads in the Apapa Area of Lagos, saying that government direct interventions was now needed to stimulate reasonable work on the road.
Usman noted that having identified the Port Access Roads in Apapa and Oshodi all the way to the toll gate as bad portions, and we have realise how much they affect access to the ports, businesses and residents around the Apapa area, and ultimately the economy of the nation, it means that we must give emergency attention to every process involved.
According to the NPA MD “This includes priority for approvals across board, priority considerations for budget provisions and priority for listing at the Federal Executive Council. I am happy that the situation has drawn attention at the highest level such that the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, had had to visit Apapa twice in the past one week. I am confident that something positive will happen this time.”
The chief executive dismissed insinuations that the traffic congestions in Apapa is as a result of lack of capacity of terminals at the ports to receive the volume of cargo that comes into the country, stating that things have gotten worse in the area since 2017 when the country received the lowest volume of cargo in recent times.
“At the peak of cargo reception in 2014”, she said, “Cargo throughput was put at 84,951,927 MT, we did not have the type of congestions that we had in 2017 when we only did 71, 776, 545MT.
This is to show you that the volume of cargo is not the reasons why we have this situations”. Apart from the dilapidated and parlous state of the roads, she said the country has also not improved infrastructure in the port area in the past ten years, adding that there is the very important need of deploying intermodal means of transportations around the ports.
“There is no way you can move 90 percent of cargo coming into the country by road and expect the required level of efficiency.
This is because more than the attendant traffic congestions, you will also see that the roads cannot be durable because of the heavy tonnage of the trucks. The only sustainable way for effective cargo evacuation is therefore the use of roads, rails and water to move cargo into the hinterland,” she said.
Bala Usman also carpeted the shipping companies, insisting that they must comply with the utlilisation of holding bays even as the authority and the Lagos State Government are working towards ensuring that a sufficient number of trailers parks are licenced as a way of taking articulated vehicles off the roads.
On the Eastern Ports, she explained that this administration is working assiduously towards ensuring that traffic increases in the area comprising Warri, Onne, Port Harcourt and Calabar.