A recent study conducted by Ships & Ports, a leading maritime consulting firm in conjunction with Frank Ojadi, a don of the Lagos Business School, has revealed that over 50 percent of container trucks visiting Apapa area on daily basis, have no immediate business at the port.
According to the study, trucks that have genuine business in Apapa Port spend an average turnaround time of two days (48 hours).
The study was carried out at two basic points- Creek Road at the tip of Liverpool Bridge and Wharf Road near Area B – where a total of 5,515 trucks were surveyed over a period of two weeks.
“It was observed that 44 percent of the trucks coming into the Apapa community through these access points were intended for transactions in Apapa Port, while 56 percent do not involve any form of transactions in the port,” the study revealed.
It blamed the prolonged closure of the Ijora Bridge for repairs, which is the main exit point from Apapa, for the perennial traffic congestion in the area.
“The Ijora Bridge was closed to repairs that supposed to last for 20 days but it is still closed more than 30 days after. The alternative route is the Leventis but this exit is narrow and riddled with several bad spots. Leventis is also characterised by truckers moving against traffic, thus blocking the outbound traffic for several hours. The truckers are aided by security officials who collect money before passing them,” the study further stated.
The study also stated that Apapa Port has recorded significant drop in gate transactions in the last few weeks due to the traffic gridlock.
“Yard Occupancy at the port is currently at 80 percent which is above the 70 percent mark for efficient port operations, thereby requiring more resources to be deployed as there are more re-handles to be done. Operators are only able to meet and exceed expected transaction time on Sundays because the traffic is lighter on those days,” the report added.
It also blamed, the collapse of the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, which is the major entry and exit point for trucks accessing the Tin-Can Island Port, Apapa Port and several tank farms, for the increased number of trucks on the narrowed Apapa-Wharf road, thereby compounding the congestion on the road.
It further pointed to lack of tow trucks or rescue equipment to address the constant breakdown of trucks and containers falling along the road.
Stakeholders interviewed in the course of the study believed that one of the solutions to the Apapa gridlock is to compel shipping lines to receive all empties at their depots.
The study however, stated that it may compound the gridlock because more than 80 percent of truckers perform dual transactions of dropping off empties and picking up imports. “This implies that the return of empty containers to depots will add more trucks to the road when they have to return the empties to the terminal.”