MD NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman

Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Hadiza Bala Usman has said that the authority is more than ever before committed to improving the current poor state of ports’ access roads, especially those in Lagos.

The Managing Director also disclosed that in line with this commitment, the authority has committed a total of  N1.8billion to the ongoing rehabilitation of the Wharf Road, which is major entry and exit point of the Lagos Ports Complex, Apapa, which is the country’s largest cargo port.

The MD said: “The dilapidated state of the road, which has gone on for almost two decades has become a thing of concern to everyone transacting business in the Apapa area of Lagos including the NPA, whose prime facilities are located in this axis.

“This accounts for the authority’s decision to collaborate with other stakeholders who agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding facilitated by the Federal Ministry of Power Works and Housing to reconstruct the entire Wharf Road. These stakeholders include The Nigerian Ports Authority, Dangote Group and Flour Mills plc”.

“Although the repair of roads is not the statutory responsibility of the Authority, it has committed the sum of N1.8b to the reconstruction of the Wharf Road and contractors from Messers AG Dangote Construction Company, were mobilised to site in July 2017”.

It was gathered that as a result of this rehabilitation work, the stretch of road for the outbound lane (Ijora Bridge-Barracks Junction) has been condoned off since the work began.

The MD had also in anticipation of the congestion that the current reconstruction would cause, set up a committee chaired by the then General Manager, Western Ports, Chief Michael Ajayi on the decongestion of the port access roads.

Membership of the committee included representatives of the Lagos State Government, the Federal Road Safety Corps, Nigerian Army, Nigerian Navy, Ports Police Command, and Department of State Security Service as well as other major stakeholders including truckers represented by the Association of Maritime Truck Owners AMARTO.

In what appeared a review of the events that finally culminated in the repair of the road, the Managing Director said that to further alleviate the sufferings  envisaged due to the congestion on the road, the authority awarded the contract for palliative works on Creek Road to Messers CGC Nigeria Limited.

The palliative works were carried out on the damaged portion of the roadway, which is now designated as alternative route in and out of the Lagos Port Complex, even as further repair works were equally carried out on other alternative routes around the corridor.

The MD also said: “In addition, realising the need for a bleeder route to relieve the pressure on Wharf Road during construction, the GM of the NPA Western Zone, who heads a committee of all terminal operators, millers and other stakeholders which worked to fashion out ways of fixing the Tin Can axis route with enduring palliatives works while the wharf road construction is ongoing”.

“A major achievement of the committee is the identification and location of a number of privately owned sites suitable to accommodate a minimum of 6,000 trucks at any particular time. To ensure that this initiative does not run into any institutional impediments, the committee engaged with land owners in the area and has established contacts with the Lagos State Government”.

Investigations further showed that NPA is also exploring the possibility of deploying multimodal cargo haulage around the Apapa axis and in order to this, talks are on with the Nigeria Railway Corporation to encourage movement of cargo by rail to and from Apapa Ports and increase the frequency of evacuation since one train movement is equal to about 70 truck movements.

The authority however expressed gratitude to all stakeholders for their cooperation and patience pending the completion of construction works on the road and assures of its readiness to discuss with stakeholders on further ways to lighten the burden on road users.

Recall that over the past one month, stakeholders have expressed concerns over the state of port access roads to the Lagos Port Complex in Apapa.