Peoples Digest Online- Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Monday explained that the Federal Government was working with private sector players to resolve the perennial traffic gridlock around Apapa Port in Lagos. Several man-hours are lost daily as a result of delays in the movement of goods and persons along the route due to bad roads. But, speaking at the Quarterly Business Forum on Agriculture, Agribusiness, and the Agro-allied value chain in Abuja, the Vice President raised hope of an improvement in the near future.
Apart from meetings with important business operators at the port, including Nigerian Flour Mills, Dangote and BUA Group, Mr. Osinbajo said the government also met with the Nigerian Navy, Police, Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, Lagos State Government, all federal agencies and concessionaires to discuss how the problem could be solved. He said at the last meeting, a number of initiatives were agreed on to bring the situation under control.
“There is a major problem there, but everyone has agreed on what to do, and there is a plan which we are executing. Nothing would happen overnight, but we have a good plan that will make it work,” the Vice president said.
Part of the plan, he said, would be to relocate all empty containers at the port to holding bays, while shipping companies would no longer be allowed to operate holding bays within the port. Besides, tank farms would also not to be permitted within the precinct of the Apapa port area, while process of licensing access to trailer parks by NPA is to commence immediately. In addition, he said a task force had been set up to manage traffic within the Apapa and Tin Can Island environs.
The Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council, PEBEC, team, the Vice President assured, would continue to monitor the situation and ensure that the problem was resolved soon. He noted the bad condition of roads in the Apapa neighborhood, saying government was determined to fix them. In line with the agreement between government and key business operators in the area, Mr. Osinbajo said it was agreed that Dangote Group would carry out palliative works and reconstruction of some major sections of the Apapa road, to be completed by June 2018.
He said procurement processes had been concluded for the construction of Liverpool road to Tin Can, to Mile 2 and Oworonshoki up to the toll gate. In addition, the Honeywell Group also committed to construct a trailer park, also scheduled for completion next year, while the BUA Group also agreed to work around the Tin Can Island road. Although government has always spoken about repairs on the road, not much has been achieved, as heavy duty vehicles conveying containers in and out of the ports routinely get stuck in dangerous spots, amid worsening conditions.
The Vice President attributed the deplorable situation at the port to excessive pressures on its facilities, whose size is far too small for the business it is doing. “The port, which was meant to be a 34 million metric tonnes capacity, is now handling 80 million metric tonnes,” he noted.