Disturbed by the protracted Apapa gridlock in Lagos State, the Senate has began probe into the implementation of the electronic call up system of admitting trucks into the terminal and allegations of extortion by port officials. Consequently, the Senate yesterday mandated the Senator Danjuma Goje, led Senate Committee on Marine Transport to carry out a holistic investigation into the matter and report back on the way forward. The Senate has called on the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency, collaborate with the Lagos State Government to ensure that tank farms are relocated to other areas. The Senate has asked the private terminal operators to explore water transport as an option in the movement of containers, just as it urge 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 has also directed its D Committees on Marine Transport, Works and Petroleum (Downstream) to meet the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, concessionaires, Nigeria Union of Petroleum Engineers and all other stakeholders to ensure resolution of pending conflicts and ensure synergy, among other stakeholders. The Senate has commended the Federal Government for the reconstruction of Oshodi – Apapa Expressway, and the completion of the Apapa Ports spur line of the Lagos -Ibadan rail. Resolutions of the Senate yesterday were sequel to a motion titled, “Urgent need to tackle the 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, and co- sponsored by Senators Solomon Adeola, and Adetokunbo Abiru. Presenting the motion, Senator Tinubu said that “The Senate notes with great displeasure the gridlock which has persisted on access roads to Apapa Seaport in Lagos, and has for many years be a source of heartache for individuals and businesses plying the road.
“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. Senate is also aware that the tank farms attract thousands of trucks and tanker drivers who lift the petroleum products for onward supply to Nigerians who owing to the paucity of parking lots take up all the space on the road instead thereby causing traffic.” According to Tinubu, “The Senate is also informed that there about 40 tank farms in the Apapa axis alone. This over concentration is disadvantageous because one accident could be the undoing of this very important aspect of the Federal Government highway.
“The Senate is also informed that 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. Senate decries the poor quality of port access roads, complex ports procedures and ineffective truck call up system among other factors contributing to delays, inefficiencies and gridlock in Apapa with huge cost to Nigeria’s economy.” She said further that “The Senate notes that this gridlock has increased the cost of doing business, encourage illegalities and stiffen ports activities with its attendant negative impact on government’s revenue projections.
The Senate is concerned that the roads leading to Apapa are characterised with so much traffic that people would rather walk than drive. The Senate is worried that this gridlock has continued to pose security threat to the lives of innocent Nigerians as hoodlums exploit the situation to disposes motorists and passers-by of their valuables. The Senate is also worried 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 while goods worth millions of Naira are also destroyed or stolen in these accidents.