The Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) and importers have urged the Minister of Power,Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola, to come up with a master plan to address the intractable Apapa, Lagos gridlock.
The gridlock, according to the stakeholders, has become a common feature of the area with its toll on trucks, cars and other vehicles which often break down.
At a forum organised by the importers and clearing agents in Lagos, at the weekend, the group urged Fashola to call a stakeholders’ meeting where he would unfold his plan to address the gridlock.
Fashola, as a former Governor of Lagos State, the National President of ANLCA, Prince Olayiwola Shittu said, needs to tell Lagosians what the Federal Government intends to do over the pathetic condition of the roads.
The Federal Government, Shittu said, makes billions of naira from the ports daily.
Investigation by The Nation revealed that Apapa and Tin-Can Customs generate, respectively, over N1 billion daily from the ports. The amount excludes what NPA, NIMASA, SON, Shippers Council and other agencies make.
Shittu said vehicular congestion, which is the cause of the gridlock, has added to the cost of clearing goods, besides driving away businesses from the area.
He alleged that importers were diverting cargoes to neighbouring countries because of the gridlock; new investors were being discouraged from the area and residents have started looking for homes outside Apapa.
“The roads leading to the Apapa ports have collapsed and Lagosians and other port users expect Fashola as a former governor of the state to bring the issue to the front burner at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting. But there is no evidence that he has done that because the roads have become worse than before his appointment.”
“And this was the man that was telling the former President Jonathan to solve the problem when he was the governor. But now that he is the minister in charge of the road, why is he not addressing the issue?”
“In Apapa alone, there are about 60 petroleum tank farms for storage of petroleum products, which account for 90 per cent of the total imported products into the country. All these, as well as other maritime-related businesses like freight, clearing and forwarding easily make Apapa a hub of maritime activities.”
Apapa, Shittu said, is not only reputed for maritime activities. Manufacturers took advantage of the ports to site companies in the suburb.
Apart from manufacturing companies like Dangote Sugar Refinery, BUA Group, Honeywell, he lamented that other businesses have shut down because of the gridlock.
“The real problem is that government is making a huge amount of money from the ports without the necessary infrastructural development. It is sad that many businesses have closed down because the owners cannot get to their offices and Fashola is happy to be there as Minister without addressing the problem.”
“No wonder, tanker drivers are now moving their trucks into residential buildings. The result is the chaotic situation we are facing in the area which we want Fashola as the minister saddled with that responsibility to address.
The Publicity Secretary of motor vehicle importers in the area, Mr. Felix Ayinla, also urged Fashola to rehabilitate the roads and address the perennial gridlock.
He noted that the problem has impacted on cargo turn-around time and the cost of doing business.
“Nobody needs to tell Fashola that Lagos port is the gateway to the nation’s economy and that he must see it as such. What we expect from him and the Federal Government is to open up the roads leading to the Lagos ports to make it attractive for business. Why must we face difficulties in moving goods in and out of the ports?
“The Federal government has what it takes to make our ports the hub in the sub-region and now is the time for Fashola to lead the country in achieving that,” he added.