Hold President Buhari responsible for the Apapa port crisis
Nigeria continues to bleed in several pores over the continued crisis with ingress and egress into the Apapa port. Beyond the obvious costs in downtime to port users, reduction in the value of properties in the district and economic value, there is the additional one of leadership responsibility. It is time to call a spade by its name and hold President Muhammadu Buhari to account for the gross failure in bringing order to Apapa ports.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has been to Apapa three times. Each time he has led missions with promises of deliverance to Apapa. There has been no deliverance of those promises. Sadly.
Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode has been dismal concerning taking charge and leading on the matter of the gridlock on the roads into and out of Apapa. Indeed, Ambode has since rolled up his hands in the admission of failure, claiming that the Apapa matter is beyond him.
Repair of the access roads into the city has taken longer than planned. It would seem that the well-meaning contractors trying on a new technology did not anticipate the depth of the problem as they have missed their timelines.
The matter of the Apapa ports is so severe it deserves presidential attention and action. Perchance the President is not aware; there are many reasons why he should set up a desk, roll up his sleeves and take charge of the effort to solve the Apapa challenge.
Before those who quibble on these matters raise the usual apologia, everyone knows the crisis with Apapa ports predates this administration. It has been in a lousy state for at least six years. However, there is a government in charge and in office over three and half years now. The brief falls on its table.
The Apapa ports challenge is more than one of traffic management and the deterioration of the environment or loss of economic value to property owners and residents. Apapais integral to the economy of Nigeria. States and the Federal Government depend on the customs and excise duties and revenues derived from the ports of Apapa. Nigeria should be earning more from that source if Apapa ports operated optimally.
The matter of its revenue contributions to the economy is more than enough reason for the President to pay attention to solving the Apapa challenge. Our economy is in dire straits, and Government must pursue and explore every avenue to shore it up. Solving the Apapa challenge would contribute significantly.
Apapa is also critical to the management of petroleum distribution. A vast 68 tank farms have a base in Apapa. The public face of the Apapa challenge is the presence of an outsized number of tankers on the roads into this small island. Tankers go to Apapa to pick cargo from the ports and to lift petroleum products from the tank farms.
Oil pipelines still run from Apapa to many locations for distribution of fuel products. Failure in stopping vandalisation led to the recourse to tankers. Solving the Apapa challenge will include restoring the use of pipelines.
It would also involve restoring the rail line to Apapa. It lies fallow and in disuse. The original planners of the infrastructure and layout of Apapa saw correctly the wisdom indeploying the rail to move heavy cargo from the ports into the hinterland. The Federal Government must revive it. Restoring the rail line can be an immediate short-term measure to enable movement of goods all the way to Ewekoro and stations out of the city centre to reduce the flow of tankers into Apapa.
Then there is the matter of the revival of the ports in other locations outside Lagos. Whatever the rationale for this situation where a nation of vast size with ports in six locations uses only one, it is no longer tenable. The Apapa ports cannot cope. Nigeria must share the load by distributing it among the many ports.
Resolving the Apapa challenge, therefore, would involve tackling it from various angles. Whichever way you look at it, the President must bear responsibility for failure to act in resolving this crisis and allowing it to fester.
Time now for presidential action. We invite Mr President to take action urgently to solve the Apapa port crisis by setting up a taskforce that he would chair to solve the problem. Some immediate actions can yield results in three months. Start now.
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