Despite the suspension of export cargo by the Nigerian Ports Authority at the Lagos Ports Complex and Tin Can Island Port for two weeks, the access roads leading into the ports have continued to witness severe gridlock causing untold hardship to commuters.
The Managing Director of the NPA, Hadiza Bala-Usman, revealed that the authority had a backlog of 600 trucks on access roads. She argued that suspension of export cargoes would free up movement into the ports.
A tour of the Lagos ports on Wednesday from Tin-Can end along Apapa-Oshodi Expressway revealed that not much had been done to rid the access road of trucks and fuel tankers.
Vice-Chairman, National Association of Road Transport Owners, Dry Cargo section, Abdullahi Inuwa, identified a myriad of challenges affecting the success of the electronic call-up system.
He said, “It is the road construction that is ongoing. When you go along Tin-Can, you will see so many sections connecting to the main ports under construction.
“Some other sections have been blocked by the contractor. You know we have so many tank farms around the area.
“The tankers have not been plugged into the e-call up system. The majority of where the container trucks are stationed before was taken over by the tankers.”
“Also, there are several checkpoints along the axis. You will see that whenever there is one checkpoint, it will give room for an illegal checking point.”
Inuwa expressed hope that contractors would speed up the linkage to the ports soon, noting that they had done most of the work but just needed to link the connecting routes soon.
He advised tanker unions to regulate their members’ activities as he urged port agencies to stop collecting levies on the road but in the ports.
In an interview, the Chairman of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents, Apapa Chapter, Sylvester Budu, said the freight forwarders were prepared to set up an internal task force that would work with the ports authority to make sure there would be a free flow of traffic.
A Nigerian firm, the Mercury Maritime Concession Company, has proffered a solution to the ports’ congestion and related traffic gridlock in Lagos.
The firm proposed a Creek Industrial Estate project and is awaiting the approval of the Lagos State government.
It vowed to rid the area of gridlock by providing a platform along with its annex located in Ikorodu for the delivery of cargoes by barges which would serve as a marine option for decongesting the ports.
Chairman of the MMCC, Rear Admiral Andrew Okoja (Retd.), said that aside from eradicating ports conjunction and making traffic gridlock caused by trailer operators a thing of the past, the Creek Industrial Estate would provide 1,000 hectares of land for industries, 600 hectares of land for residential/ commercial layout and 120 hectares of land for resettlement.
Similarly, the maritime branch of the Senior Staff Association of Statutory Corporations and Government Owned Companies has vowed to assist the management of the NPA to unmask those frustrating the introduction of the e-call up system along the port corridors.
The union disclosed that it had commenced an underground investigation to reveal stakeholders who were bent on frustrating the e-call up system during a capacity building programme for its members in Kwara State.