Since the Port Occasioning in 2001, traffic gridlock in Apapa has being nightmarish and a pain, not only in the neck of port users, but on residents, motorists and anyone who has one form of business or the other to transact in that axis.
Lovetvnews Nigeria reports that Painfully, efforts by both Lagos state and Federal government to find a lasting solution to this menace seems to have defied all solutions with the situation worsening day- in-day-out. Not even the setting up of various taskforce by both the state and federal have brought about any succor-thus leaving many questions begging for answers.
The 2021 maiden Maritime Summit by the Powerful Pen Pushers of the Maritime Journalists Association of Nigeria (MAJAN), theme: “Apapa Perennial Traffic Gridlock: Has it Defied All Solutions?”, provided an atmosphere for stakeholders in the industry and its environs to have extensive discussions, seeking ways of achieving irreversible and lasting solution to the aged-long monster-Apapa gridlock.
In his welcome address, the president of MAJAN, Comrade Ray Ugochukwu, recalls how members of MAJAN, had on December 8th, 2016, embarked on a protest march against the Apapa traffic gridlock, from Mile 2 to PTML customs, Tin Can Island Port, Lagos Port Complex, NSC, NPA headquarter and to Lagos state government house, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos.
He said “as a journalist, who have observed events in the industry for sometime, the Apapa traffic crisis was expected to happen. This is because the proponents of the nation’s port reforms threw caution to the wind in the processes leading to the port concession of 2006”.
Comrade Ugochukwu said that though the idea of port concession, on the surface, looked well-intentioned but the drivers have hidden agenda that has led to the devastating unabated sordid traffic in Apapa.
There was a consensus by stakeholders at the summit, calling for sincerity of purpose on the part of the Nigerian government, in finding a lasting solution to the Apapa gridlock debacle.
Stakeholders also identified and attributed the existence of cabals as a major clog in the wheel of progress at finding a permanent solution to the perennial traffic challenge in Apapa.
Speaking with Lovetvnews Nigeria on the sideline of the summit, the chairman of Nigerian union of journalists, NUJ, Lagos chapter, Olaleye Ajayi, suggested that the best way out is to adopt a multi modal transport system which could do the magic and free up the road of traffic.
“what is the best is to adopt a set of multimodal system? When I say multimodaI, I mean there should be three modes of transporting cargoes out of the ports, Lagos, ports should be by barges taking cargoes by bargies, second should be road infrastructure should be put in order, the Port Access route is not up to five kilometers. So it should not cause them anything to put these routes in shape”.
“Like today It took me three hours for me to come here it’s this unfortunate. I think government has to find immediate remedy immediate solution. And that is by way of calling experts together not even politicians, experts in industry to find a lasting solution’.
Mr. Ajayi was also very optimistic that the launch of the electronic call- up system will soon make the gridlock a thing of the past stressing that shipping companies and terminal operators should expedite action in constructing functional holding bays for empty containers.
Also speaking with Lovetvnews Nigeria, a Maritime Expert, Mr. Dipo Olayokun, who lamented that corruption in the sector has not allowed the system to work, called for sincerity of purpose in finding a lasting solution to the crisis.
“Yeah, the real solution is that I should be sincerity, sincerity of purpose on the part of those who are supposed to find a solution to it because the problem is multifaceted. But unfortunately, we are looking at the problem from one aspect. We are looking at the problem from vehicles on the road I mean trucks and the problem is deeper than that. The trucks you see on the road are a reflection of the rots in the system. How do you I mean, inside the Ports there are problems of congestion, spaces that would have served as parks were trucks are supposed to stay have been taken over by offices, they have been taken over by containers”.
“But because of the rot in deports, the rot of inefficiency, the rot of inadequacy of tools or equipment. So those people are overwhelmed by the container that are coming from outside but more importantly You have the problem of corruption. Some people have benefited immensely from those trucks you see on the road. So they will do everything within their power to make sure that those drugs don’t disappear from there, you can come up with any system, if your government does not address the issue of corruption, it will be almost impossible to solve the problem of Apapa traffic gridlock”.
The Registrar of the NAGAFF Academy, Mr. Francis Omotosho in his presentation recall that the gridlock started as small hold-ups when trailers started loading wet cargoes from the few tank farms that we had around the Port areas then, and that it snowballed into the gridlock that we have today as more tank farms appeared and then the federal government concessioned the ports to private hands without the usual Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) carried out on the area and without the provisions for truck garages for the displaced trucks.
He concluded by saying that “The traffic gridlock has proved Herculean since the new millennium. Its incidence and impact worsened with the success of the concessions which prioritized private sector-led Port operations”.
With the outlook of the Nigerian economy being bright, coupled with possible exponential growth in agriculture and agribusiness, more exports from the Lagos ports system are expected. Although the government seemed handicapped for ready solutions, the latter-day efforts by the Nigerian Navy to clear the gridlock began to yield some results from mid-2018 following the barring of inner-city roads to truck traffic.
However, the long-term sustainability of such ad hoc measures is unpredictable. Hence an urban renewal and reconstruction programme to modernize city transport infrastructures and complete review of our ports master plans would seem a better remedial policy”.
It was however agreed by stakeholders at the summit on the need for the Federal Government to re-evaluate and re-jig the port reform taking into account the role of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council as the Economic Regulator.
The Summit was well attended by dignitaries, officials and delegates from the Nigerian Ports Authority, Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Nigerian Railway Corporation, Nigeria Customs Service, Wharf Landing Collecting Fees Authority, Nigeria Union of Journalists, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders among others.
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