Infrastructural expansion, inter-modal transport system to address Apapa traffic – Integrated Oil boss
Worried by the persistent traffic gridlock on roads leading to the nation’s major seaports in Lagos, Apapa and Tin-Can Island, Emmanuel Ihenacho, chairman of Integrated Oil and Gas, has called on the Federal Government to consider the option of redesigning and expanding road infrastructure in Apapa metropolis.
According to him, expansion of infrastructure around the port city has become important given the fact that the volume of cargoes coming in and out of both ports has out grown the available infrastructure.
“The Apapa roads were built years back in line with the size of traffic in the ports those days. Today, volume has increased and there is need for policy makers to make adequate provisions for road expansion to accommodate more trucks coming and leaving Apapa,” said Ihenacho in Lagos recently at a roundtable meeting with some journalists under the aegis of Maritime Reporters Association of Nigeria (MARAN).
Stating that the problem of Apapa was that no significant investment in infrastructure has been made in a long time, the master mariner suggested that government needs to bring down old and idle buildings that are not yielding any economic benefit to enable them expand the roads.
He also said that government can consider the idea of acquiring some of those buildings, knock them down and develop additional infrastructure like truck parks and additional roads to solve the problem of Apapa.
Ihenacho, who doubles as the CEO of Genesis Worldwide Shipping, warned that there would be an adverse effect on Nigerian economy if Nigerian port is not working efficiently due to inability to move cleared cargoes out and bring in export cargoes.
He also said that if the challenges were not addressed, tank farm operators might also have challenges in the distribution of fuel across the country.
Lamenting that the traffic situation on access roads to the ports are abysmally bad such that the ports are currently choked to death, Integrated Oil boss said that Apapa traffic is not a situation port users could endure forever .
“A special task force should be set up to look at these problems and find possible long term solutions to them,” he said.
Ihenacho exempted petroleum tank farm owners from the accusation that their operations result to the traffic congestion at the port. The roads, he said, are too small for the volume of trucks going into the ports.
He also said that there is an urgent need for the Federal Government to address the level of refuse dump that are gradually taking over the major roads leading to Lagos ports.
He also said that the new Executive Order on Ease of Doing Business especially as regards to 24 hours port operation cannot succeed without investment in infrastructures.
“Ownership of holding bays is not the responsibility of shipping companies, it requires a regulator or an entity to look into the volume of cargoes coming into the port and make it easy for trucks to transit the port. I don’t like blame games, a shipping company is a shipping company the owners are there to make profit,” he stated.
Continuing, he said: “Apapa port is the heart of the nation and without free movement of cargoes, Nigerian economy would suffer. If goods are cleared within 24hours and there is no road for them to pass, there is no way Nigerian ports can be a hub.”
He also pointed on the need to also develop other means of transporting cargoes from the port to include railway, waterway and truck marshalling areas.
On the ongoing reconstruction works on the Wharf road, Iheanacho said that the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) should have given the work to Julius Berger and spearhead the construction work rather than allow private hands.
“We should have gone beyond the issue of private effort, if there is a private person who wants to help, he should be that we ask him to help in terms of bringing money and we add it to Government own programme. Government should bring Julius Berger into the project, they have proven themselves over the years to be very efficient” he said.
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