The Chairman of Apapa Local Government Area, Hon Elijah Adele has slammed government agencies, especially the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) for the gridlock that has bedevilled the port city of Apapa over the years.
Besides being the location of Africa’s largest container terminal, Apapa Quay, a key component of the Lagos Port Complex (LPC), Apapa is also home to Nigeria’s second busiest port, Tin Can Island Port Complex.
However, the port access roads have become a nightmare to motorists leading to the loss of several properties and the death of a yet-to-be-estimated number of persons with the Federal Government paying lip service to the need to address the challenge headlong.
Speaking in Lagos while fielding questions from executives of the Maritime Reporters Association of Nigeria (MARAN) who paid a courtesy call, working on his office, Adele expressed dismay the NPA which was saddled with the responsibility of inspection of shipping companies and their holding bays before renewing their licenses has failed to do their job.
His words: “The major challenge of the trucks on our roads is the shipping companies. Not less than 70% of the traffic situation in Apapa is caused by the shipping companies. They supposed to have holding bays or bonded terminals. It is just as if you are bringing in a car from abroad, but instead of you to have a car park, you decided to park on the main road.
“We have government officials that renew their (shipping companies) licenses and one of the conditions that needed to be fulfilled is that you need to inspect their bonded terminals to be sure that they have a place for empty containers, but here, the reverse is the case. The shipping companies are doing this because they usually collect N250,000 as demurrage (container deposit)
“Because of exploitation, they allow truckers to be on the main road, journey of five day would now take you two weeks. On each day, for one empty container, they charge about N9, 500 as demurrage. Some container can stay on the queue for a month. It then means that the N250, 000 is gone. When I resumed here newly, I talked with the truckers, NPA, APMT and other concessionaires and I also some of the shipping companies. But they have this confidence that no matter how you try, you would not break through, so I was challenged”.
Adele lampooned the shipping companies operating in the port city, saying that many of them do not have holding bays.
The Apapa Local Government Area Chairman alleged that the shipping companies are driven by greed, even as he noted that most of them deliberately keep trucks bearing empty containers lined up on the road in order to deplete container deposits paid by importers.
According to him, residents of Apapa have been adversely affected by the traffic situation. The revenue collection of the local government has dwindled because most business owners have closed shop. This was the main reason why I decided to erect barricades, thereby restricting trucks from accessing the inner roads and residential areas in Apapa.
He noted that the barricades on the Apapa inner roads are movable, but any company that needs to receive a container must inform the government 12 hours ahead in order to have access. On weekends, he said they need to inform government 48 hours ahead so that his officers can be on ground.
He assured that the local government area wants business owners within the inner roads in Apapa to be able to do their businesses without stress.
“Revenue generation in Apapa has declined and it is only those that are rugged that are still in Apapa, but by the time you meet them, they would tell you their side of the story that for one month, customers find it difficult to access their place.
“As for the trucks on the Apapa Bridge, we have already moved they out. The strength and expiration date of the bridge have already lapsed, some of them have spent more than 40 years; It is only the grace of God that has been sustaining that bridge. The bridge is supposed to be for transit and not for cargoes not to be permanently station on it”, he said.
On the high level of refuse that have taken over Apapa port and inner residential roads, Adele said that the local government is financially handicapped.
According to him, one of the primary responsibilities of the local government is to clear refuse and it has to be based on the resources that you have, for now I have two compactors, one of them is as good as gone, the second one is still okay. I am planning to buy a second hand compactor for N18million, but where am I going to get the money?