From left: Stakeholder Manager, APM Terminals, Apapa Limited,  Mr. Daniel Odibe, Vice Chairman, Presidential Task Force on Apapa Gridlock, Comrade Kayode Opeifa, Executive Secretary/ CEO, Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Mr. Hassan Bello during a recent visit to APM Terminals in Lagos.

Port industry stakeholders in Lagos, Tuesday took a swipe at the Vice Chairman of the Presidential Task Team on Apapa gridlock, Kayode Opeifa over his claims that the gridlocks that characterise all the access roads to Nigeria’s two biggest seaports, Lagos Ports Complex and Tin Can Island Ports Complex have been cleared by his team, insisting that the gridlocks are as bad as ever.

At a one-day stakeholders’ meeting organised by the Nigerian Shippers Council, the country’s Port Economic Regulator to find ways of addressing the perennial gridlocks that have rendered seaport operations ineffective and inefficient, Opeifa, who has been in the centre of corruption allegations had showed a video a clip and pictures of the access roads taken in September last year to justify his claims that the gridlocks have cleared.

He had also told stakeholders at the meeting drawn from the Nigerian Ports Authority, Shippers Council, terminal operators, shipping lines, freight forwarders, Nigeria Customs Service,  haulage fleet operators and other categories of truckers that the media reports on the persisting gridlock were a mere imagination of the media practitioners.

Publisher of BusinessDay Newspaper, Frank Aigbogun, one of the stakeholders who spoke at the meeting, said it was sickening and mindless for anyone to claim that the gridlocks in Apapa have cleared, saying he had to abandon his house off-Liverpool Road in Apapa for over two years now due to the gridlock in the area.

According to him, a journey from Ijora to Apapa, which ordinarily should not take more than five minutes now takes over two hours as a result of the perennial gridlocks.

Aigbogun who was visibly bitter said: “I have lost my house in Apapa, lost over 200 members of staff, who left my employ because of the traffic situation in Apapa. My Church is in Apapa, only last Sunday I was coming to Church from the Island, I had to turn back because of the gridlock, my business is going down and someone here is telling me that there is no gridlock in Apapa.

“Please let someone tell Koyode Opeifa that there is still gridlock in Apapa, before now, we pay N120, 000 to deliver a container from Apapa Port, recently we paid N690, 000 apiece for the three containers of newsprint. The gridlocks were cleared in September last year but now they are back.

“The question one must ask is why did the gridlock return between September last year and now? Ijora Truck Terminal is empty, the roads have been tarred and yet the gridlocks have persisted. It is not about bad roads, it is all about traffic management. Media reports on the gridlocks are not imaginary, they are real and if the gridlocks clear, the media will not have anything to report”.  

Chairman of Apapa branch of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria MAN, whose names could not be ascertained at press time, also admitted that the traffic situation in Apapa has worsened, thus making the movement of goods in and out of the seaports a herculean task.

He regretted that all the streets within the industrial estates in Apapa have been taken over by truckers, thus paralysing business activities in the estates with attendant huge losses to the manufacturers.

He therefore called on the authorities to evolve an efficient traffic management system that would check the excesses of truck drivers on the port access roads and restore sanity to the area. He also called on NPA to put into effective use the truck terminals at Ijora and Tin Can Island Ports both of which are currently under lock and key so that trucks could go there and decongest the roads.