Executive Secretary/CEO, Nigerian Shippers Council, Hassan Bello Esq.

The Executive Secretary/CEO of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Hassan Bello, has said that the perennial gridlock on port access roads in Apapa, Lagos is an international embarrassment to the Nigerian nation, being a major shipping nation, which plays dominant role in the Gulf of Guinea.

The worsening traffic situation in Apapa, which houses the country’s two biggest seaports, the Lagos Ports Complex and Tin Can Island Ports Complex, is partly caused by the dilapidated state of the road infrastructure, many of which need expansion and upgrade, poor management of empty containers by shipping companies and influx of trucks and articulated vehicles, many of which do not have cargo to pick or drop, among other factors.

Bello, who spoke when he played host to members of the newly inaugurated Lagos Task Team on Restoration of Law and Order on Apapa Port Access Roads, who sought to collaborate with the council to enable it address the traffic problem in the area, said the bad traffic situation was taking its toll on port efficiency.

It was gathered that it takes a truck an average of seven days to get to the ports to pick consignment from any of the two seaports and not less than one week also to exit the port after taking cargo, a development that affects cargo dwell time, which is over 21 days and vessels’ turnaround time, which is also more than 10 days.

He noted that it was in response to the adverse effects of the worsening traffic situation in Apapa and its attendant negative effects on port operations that the Federal Government prioritised the issue of addressing it so that a measure of efficiency would return to the ports.

“The traffic in Apapa is affecting the efficiency of the ports. This is why the Federal Ministry of Transport has prioritised the solving of the Apapa traffic situation. Evidence of this is the on-the-spot assessment visit paid to the ports by the Minister, Chibuike Amaechi, the Permanent Secretary Dr. Magdalene Ajani and other top officials of the ministry to Apapa in December 2020.

“He said the implementation committee on the Ministerial Directives to decongest the gridlock along the port access roads and Lagos maritime logistics ring would work in tandem with the Task Team to provide a permanent solution to the Apapa traffic problem, which will benefit all Nigerians by eliminating the distortions in prices of goods imported into Nigeria”, Bello also said.

Chairman of the Task Team, Toyin Fayinka had during the courtesy visit solicited the cooperation of the council to enable it solve the traffic problem in Apapa.

Fayinka who doubles as Special Assistant on transport to Governor Sanwo-Olu said the essence of the delegation’s visit to NSC was to introduce the team to the council, adding that the committee cannot succeed in its assignment without the support of the NSC, Nigerian Ports Authority NPA and other agencies in the maritime industry.

Meanwhile, General Manager, Lagos Traffic Management Authority LASTMA, Jide Oduyoye, who is a member of the team, said LASTMA will not hesitate to sanction any case of indiscriminate parking of trucks on port access roads. He lamented the lack of regulation for truckers and truck owners, pointing out that most trucks are unserviceable. He said minimum standards are required for truck drivers and trucks.