With the recent promise on Apapa access roads, do you see solution in sight?

Dr. Boniface Aniebonam (Founder, NAGAFF)  The efforts by NPA and the Lagos State Government are just an intervention and this is what they should do, the bottom line is for them to get the road fixed. Government would not tell you that they would not intervene; if they do that, then it means we don't have a government again. The wharf landing fee is still money that is being collected at the port, so we expect some of these intervention to come from the Lagos state government to pay back what they are getting from the roads.

  Mukhtar Adikwu (President, Nigerian Shippers’ Council Senior Staff)  Whatever can be done to ease the traffic situation in Apapa is welcome, whatever any government agency can do that is legally allowed to ease the traffic situation is very important. Besides the oil, the port is the next revenue earner for the country and it has been left in such a dilapidated condition for a very long time, right now people cannot access their offices on time,  we are losing a lot of man-hour on the road, a journey of 30 minutes now take three to four hours,  and when you finally arrive, you would be so stressed out to do your job. Whatever the NPA, federal government and state government can do to make sure that we have some ease in traffic within Apapa area is very important and necessary. Getting into Apapa is hectic and getting out is hectic, we as workers sacrifice a lot. 

 Chief Mike Ossy (Vice Chair, ANLCA, Tin Can Port)  The major problem of Apapa port roads is the tank farms, you even see them besieging Grimaldi to come and load, most of them are not even loading products, and they can park here for up  to three weeks. The only solution in sight is for NPA security and the Police to stop taking bribe, that is the only time that efforts on the road can yield results, if not so,  the situation would remain the same. If you come to Apapa around Trinity bus stop at night, security officials collect money from the truckers and allow them to drive on one-way lane. Another major problem is the truck drivers, they have a bay where they can drop empty containers as mapped out for them by the shipping companies, but they would not use it, they prefer to come and queue up at the port. There should be a demarcation on the road; a certain area should be mapped out for private vehicles only.

  Ugochukwu Nnadi (Trustee, NAGAFF) This is a road that, even as we speak, the Lagos State Government is still in the road collecting money even as bad as the roads are,  so what efforts are we talking about, if they had used that money they collected as Wharf Landing Fees to repair the roads, we would not be having the bad roads as it is today, there is no solution that would be applied on this road as bad as it is, the other day, transport minister, Rotimi Amaechi promised to import wagons and yet we have a skeletal rail which is a narrow gauge at Apapa port, is this the only port we have? All these are not the solution, the solution is simple, it is just to repair the roads properly, once this is done, everything would fall into place. The task force constituted by Lagos State and even the NPA cannot achieve anything because right now, all the trucks are plying on one-way.   

Jonathan Nicol (Shippers Association)This is what we call old story; it is something that we have been talking more than 15 to 20 years ago. When the ports system was not as bad as it is now, ships do not come into the country with empty containers because Nigeria is not a dumping ground. You know those containers are hired so when you come they will charge you and you will pay. So why won’t they take the containers out of the country and take them back to where they got it from. Some of the containers are old fashioned that it is no longer needed any more in the country they got it from. The shipping lines themselves do not know where to keep it so they now use their terminals to store those containers making it difficult to create space for loaded containers. So we are saying that all shipping containers should get a bay, it is not a new thing it has been on ground. So if NPA wants to enforce it we will commend them to do that. What is lacking in our system is enforcement. All shipping lines supposed to have a holding bay for their own containers if they do not have money to acquire that they should hire from other shipping lines. We know that two or three companies can come together and hire a land where they will be keeping their own containers. But we realise that our investors do not want commitment. It should be a law that shipping companies must have a holding bay they should make it a condition for contracts. 

 Paul Ndibe (Acting National Executive Director, CILT)Any measure that can be taken to address Apapa traffic issue will only be a short time measure. Because, for shipping lines they know the cargoes in their ships, the time for loading and off-loading and the cargoes they are expecting. Therefore they will work closely with the agents and knowing the time these cargoes will be loaded and for the trucks to take these goods out to be available. However, this may not be for all the ports because for the ports in Apapa, there are no access roads to the place, so you might not have field evacuation. Even in Apapa, all the evacuations there will be by road and look at the size of the operator so if they do not have a holding bay how will the containers that comes in stay. They should also look for where the trucks will park. So generally it will be a short time measure but the long time is for them to ensure that trucks bringing in containers to their terminals will be the same trucks to take away the loaded containers. But you cannot force an agent or shipper to use a particular truck, but if they can dedicate a particular truck for bringing and taking out containers it will be good. The ones bringing in empty containers will be the ones taking out the loaded ones. 

 Captain Tajudeen Alao (Master Mariner)If the NPA can fully implement all those things, it is a good step in the right direction, it is a good move. The gridlock has been a thing of fear to operators in that area. People spend more than 6 hours going and leaving Apapa. So I applaud the move.

 Engineer Matthew Alalade (Merchant Navy)I think the NPA knows what to do. Why are they putting tank farms in Apapa, they should start by relocating those tank farms. Shipping companies should also stop brining in empty containers, they should fully implement the call up system when it is your time to load they will call you and you come and load. I don’t think the strategies NPA wants to implement will help because the roads are bad they should start by repairing the roads. They should start with the road first what PTF did before now is very good. They should relocate the tank farms; the tanker drivers are messing the whole road up.

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