OrderPaperToday- Senators from Lagos State, Tuesday moved to end the gridlock that persisted on the access road to Apapa Seaport in Lagos State.
This came to the fore in a motion titled: “Urgent need tackle protracted Apapa gridlock in Lagos and embrace the newly introduced electronic call up system of admitting trucks into the terminal.”
The motion was sponsored by Senator Oluremi Tinubu (APC, Lagos Central) and Co-Sponsored by Senators Solomon Adeola and Adetokunbo Abiru (APC, Lagos East).
The lawmakers noted with great displeasure the Apapa gridlock, which has persisted on access roads to the Apapa Seaport in Lagos. For many years it has been a source of heartache for individuals and businesses plying the route.
While presenting her motion, Sen Oluremi said that the Senate is also aware that the gridlock has persisted due to the terrible condition of Apapa port. The concentration of Tank Farms in the area, indiscriminate parking of petroleum tankers and trailers wanting to load petroleum products from the tank farms and the racket created by persons benefiting from the chaotic situation.
Furthermore, Sen Oluremi stated that the tank farms attract thousands of trucks and tanker drivers who lift the petroleum products for onward supply to Nigerians. Thus, due to poor parking resulting from the lack of parking space, the space on the road is taken up instead, thereby causing traffic.
She informed the Senate that there are about 40 tank farms in the Apapa axis alone. This over-concentration is disadvantageous because one accident could be the undoing of this crucial aspect of the Federal Government highway. “The unpalatable situation has made the area a goldmine for unscrupulous persons and operatives who have gone on to create a racket profiting off the turmoil created”, Oluremi added.
Similarly, the lawmaker added that “the poor quality of port access roads, complex ports procedures and ineffective truck call up system among other factors contributing to delays. Therefore, inefficiencies and gridlock in Apapa accrued huge costs to Nigeria’s economy. “This gridlock has increased the cost of doing business, encouraged illegalities and stiffen ports activities with its attendant negative impact on government’s revenue projections”, she stated.
Sen Oluremi expressed worried that this gridlock has continued to pose a security threat to the lives of innocent Nigerians. As hoodlums exploit the situation to disposes of motorists and passers-by of their valuables.
Also, she expressed worries that due to the deplorable state of the roads and the number of trucks and containers on the road, there have been several cases of containers falling on smaller vehicles, killing innocent citizens. At the same time, goods worth millions of Naira are also destroyed or stolen in these accidents.
While noting the allegation of extortion by security operatives posted to the area, she said the Presidential Task Force handed over the reins of managing the traffic situation to the Lagos State Government, which set up the Apapa Special Traffic Management.
Likewise, the lawmaker disclosed that Nigerian Ports Authority recently introduced the electronic call-up system for admitting trucks into the terminal. This helps to control the movement of trucks in and out of Lagos Seaports.
Additionally, she stated that her concern is that despite the well-intentioned initiative, the chaotic traffic situation still lingers. As tankers and trucks are parked indiscriminately on the roads, causing inconvenience to residents, commuters, and business activities in the area. “Tankers have not been incorporated into the e-call up system. Thus the areas where container trucks used to be stationed has now been taken over by tankers.”
The lawmaker also said she was “bothered by the seeming discord among stakeholders in implementing the e-call up system. NUPENG representatives have reportedly stated that the initiative is not feasible not only because alternative parking lots have not been provided. But also because as a body, NUPENG is not subject to the authority of the implementing agency in the Nigerian Ports Authority.
“Clearing agents and truck owners along the port’s access roads at the Tincan Island Port complex accused officials of the NPA, security agents and the police personnel who are deployed to manage traffic in the area of sabotaging the smooth operation of the newly introduced e-call up system by colluding with community boys, touts and miscreants who disregard official e-call up tickets to extort truckers”, she said.
Therefore, the Senate ought to note allegations by industry operators such as the National Association of Road Transport Workers that human interference in the e-call up system continues to hamper resolution of the issues and compound the problem.
The Senate accordingly resolved to urge the private terminal operators to explore water transport as an option in the movement of containers. It also urged the Federal Government to collaborate with the Lagos State Government and other critical stakeholders. To evacuate all petrol tankers and heavy-duty vehicles along the Apapa ports access road.
Consequently, the Senate urged the Federal Government to collaborate with the Lagos State Government to ensure tank farms are relocated to other areas. Just as it urged the Federal Ministry of Works to commence the reconstruction and repairs all access roads to seaports, namely Apapa Creek road, Apapa Oshodi Expressway, and Tincan Island.
The Senate further directed the Committee on Marine Transport to investigate the implementation of the e-call up system and allegations of extortion by port officials and report back to the Senate on the way forward.
Furthermore, it directed the Committee on Marine Transport, Works and Petroleum (Downstream) to meet the NPA, concessionaires, Nigeria Union of Petroleum Engineers and all other stakeholders to ensure resolution of pending conflicts. And also ensure synergy among stakeholders.