..As Lagos seals 5 bonded terminals, others in Ajegunle***
The Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman, has urged the federal government to give priority to every process that would lead to an improvement in the condition of access roads into Apapa Ports.
She said priority federal government to declare an emergency on the situation of roads in the Apapa Area of Lagos. This was part of her declaration yesterday at a session with some journalists.
According to her, “if, we have identified the Port Access Road in Apapa and Oshodi all the way to the toll gate as bad portions, and we realise how much they affect access to the ports, businesses and residents around the Apapa area, and ultimately the economy of the nation, its means that we must give emergency attention to every process involved.
“This includes priority for approvals across board, priority consideration for budget provision and priority for listing at the Federal Executive Council. I am happy that the situation has drawn attention at the highest level such that the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has had to visit Apapa twice in the past one week. I am confident that something positive will happen this time.”
The chief executive dismissed insinuations that the traffic congestion in Apapa is as a result of lack of capacity of terminals at the ports to receive the volume of cargo that comes into the country, stating that things have gotten worse in the area since 2017 when the country received the lowest volume of cargo in recent times.
“At the peak of cargo reception in 2014”, she said, “Cargo throughput was put at 84,951,927 MT, we did not have the type of congestion that we had in 2017 when we only did 71, 776, 545MT.
This is to show you that the volume of cargo is not the reason why we have this situation”. Apart from the dilapidated and parlous state of the roads, she said the country has also not improved infrastructure in the port area in the past ten years, adding that there is the very important need of deploying intermodal means of transportation around the ports.
“There is no way you can move 90 percent of cargo coming into the country by road and expect the required level of efficiency. This is because more than the attendant traffic congestion, you will also see that the roads cannot be durable because of the heavy tonnage of the trucks. The only sustainable way for effective cargo evacuation is therefore the use of roads, rails and water to move cargo into the hinterland,” she said.
Bala Usman did not spare shipping companies, as she insisted that they must comply with the utlilisation of holding bays even as the authority and the Lagos State Government are working towards ensuring that a sufficient number of trailer parks are licenced as a way of taking articulated vehicles off the roads.
On the Eastern Ports, she explained that this administration is working assiduously toward ensuring that traffic increases in the area comprising Warri, Onne, Port Harcourt and Calabar.
In the meantime, the Lagos State Building Control Agency, LASBCA, weekend shut down five illegal bonded terminals and four other buildings, including a cinema in Ajegunle, Ajeromi-Ifelodun Local Government Area of the state for contravening the state’s building development plans.
Deputy Governor, LABSCA officials, accompanied by officials of the state taskforce, stormed the council and shutdown the affected terminals and structures. Some of the terminals shutdown during the enforcement were Queena Bonded Terminal and Don Climax Bonded Terminal. Among the buildings sealed were popular Godday Cinema that had existed for decades in Ajegunle and buildings converted from residential to commercial purposes. The state governor, Akinwunmi Ambode had last last week ordered all illegal bonded terminals within the council to be shut down immediately, saying, they contributed to the gridlock in Apapa.
The General Manager, LASBCA, Engr. Lekan Shodeinde said: “The exercise is part of the efforts of the state government to ensure building developments followed approved layouts for each areas.” Shodeinde, who was represented by the agency’s Secretary, Mr. Tayo Fakolujo, said: “All bonded terminals operating within residential areas will be sealed. The genesis of Apapa gridlock is a result of indiscriminate citing of tank farms and bonded terminals in the areas without approval from the state government.”
He, however, said with the new monitoring and auditing of building in the state, government would not hesitate to sanction any recalcitrant operator of a terminal or owner who converts the residential buildings to commercial usage without any recourse to proper regularization, engineering appraisal of the building. He stated that mobile court had been deployed to prosecute any recalcitrant defaulters. Speaking during the exercise, one of the residents of Dada Onijomo Street, Awodi-Ora in Ajegunle, Mrs. Taiwo Aina, said that since the citing of bonded terminals in that area, the community had known no peace as a result of indiscriminate parking of trailers on the streets.
Additional report from Vanguard