· Experts commend private operators for CSR
· It’s beyond CSR, it’s about survival – Ibru
By Kenneth Jukpor & Oyeniyi Iwakun
Dissatisfied with the deplorable state of the Mile 2 to Tin-Can Island Port road that has become death trap for motorists and other commuters, stakeholders operating around the Tin-Island port axis have accepted the onus to put palliatives in place to ease the suffering of the road users and guarantee the sustainability of their businesses.
MMS Plus findings revealed that these port stakeholders ranging from Tank farm operators, Banks, and others along Sunrise to Coconut axis of the Oshodi-Apapa road, resolved within themselves after extensive deliberations and consultations to contribute N10million each, with N225million already generated for the rehabilitation the dilapidated axis of the port access road.
During the recent ports stakeholders meeting organized by the management of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), the Chairman Technical Committee for Ibru Committee of Directors of Petroleum Depots of Ibafon-Apapa, Mr. Sabitu Ajadi called on the NPA management and other stakeholders to support the project aimed at easing movement in and out of the ports with a view to improving lives and economic activities in the area.
“My area of input has to do with access road to Tin-Can Island. The committee of directors of depots owners decided to meet in December last year to commence palliative measures from Sunrise to Coconut and we have committed about N225 Million to the road rehabilitation.
“We have completed the first and we are on the second phase which will be completed very soon. This will aid the movement of trucks. So, we are soliciting for the input of NPA, shipping companies and terminal operators to complement this project” he said.
While informing the stakeholders at the meeting that the committee already got the endorsement of the Federal Ministry of Works, Mr. Ajadi explained that work commenced on February 14th, 2018 but had been limited by funds even as he acknowledged that contributions were gotten from SIFAX Group, Ibanfo Oil, among others.
However, he implored NPA to speak with the concessionaires to subscribe to the project which would complement the success of the truck call-up system when introduced.
“If the road is bad, the call-up system will have no effect. If a trailer is supposed to access Tin-Can Island Port within 30 minutes and it is there for 3 to 4 hours, the road will automatically be congested. We are all aware that our revenue since last year has dropped with about 30% to 40%”, he said.
Recall that NPA’s Managing Director, Hadiza Bala-Usman during the port stakeholders meeting in Lagos in February this year, said NPA had written to the Federal Ministry of Works to seek approval for the takeover of the construction of the Tin-Island road by NPA.
Speaking with MMS Plus on the issue, Mr. Victor Onyimuka, Ibafo Oil decried the rate at which the nation’s access roads are left reckless without sanitation even as he blamed NPA management for not taking the bulls by the horn.
He argued that NPA leadership should lead a delegation to the Presidency to have interface and dialogue on the ways of solving the problems with emphasis on the importance of the road.
“The roads to the international airports and the seaports are parts of the most important routes in any nation. If you visit other countries including the ones we call small ones like Togo and Benin Republic, they have very good roads to their ports but Nigerian port access roads have been like this for so many years.
“It takes truck drivers who want to drop containers two weeks to get to where they will drop the containers and within those two weeks, they stay on the roads without water and toilets, so they defecate and take their bath on the road and also leave the wastes from their foods littering the entire place. They have covered the whole of Olodi-Apapa, Ajegunle and other areas with debris. These roads should be seen as national priority that isn’t the case”, he said.
When quizzed on the probable causal factors of NPA’s inability to do the talk as resolved in so many previous ports stakeholders meetings over the years, Mr. Victor opined that it could be a product of incompetence and leadership failure.
“Leadership is about thinking. There is what is called cognitive development that has to do with individual’s thinking skills. So, if you know that Federal Government is responsible for the road construction and maintenance, why are you talking to Dangote and other stakeholders to come and construct the road? These stakeholders have tried their best. They have tried by contributing N10 million each; while they are doing it the road seems to be getting worse. The best is for federal government to take over its responsibility by giving the road the desired priority. We pay a lot of tax in this country”, he remarked
Mr. Victor who identified indiscriminate change of NPA’s leadership as one of the challenges confronting the nation’s maritime industry felt it would have been fair if the leadership of NPA had the courage to interface with the Federal Executive Council and also the National Assembly through the necessary committees on issues bordering on the port access roads.
Meanwhile, in an exclusive interview with MMS Plus newspaper, the Managing Director, Ibanfo Oil and Gas Limited, Mr. Mamemo Ibru confirmed these payments.
Speaking with our correspondent on the contribution by operators along the SunRise – Coconut axis of the Tin Can Island Port road, Ibru said the initiative was beyond Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) of the companies in the region as the problem could adversely affect the survival of the companies.
“It is almost impossible to bring in trucks into the region so we had to take the decision. Some companies came together to facilitate this and Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) deserves credit for the initiative”, he said.
On his part, Dr. Ikenna Nwosu, a development economist, commended the efforts of the private stakeholders to solve the port access infrastructure deficit which had chased many businesses away from the area.
“I wasn’t aware of this move by private operators before now. If this is true that these companies are doing this project as part of their CSR, then it is a good development for the country. The road is killing the economic activities in Apapa and its environs. This is a welcome development for not just the operators in the region but the nation’s economy at large” he said.
Despite assuring port stakeholders of its readiness to solve the perennial problem by completing the rehabilitation of the Oshodi-Apapa dual carriageway, the Federal Government has no plans to fix the road and the intervention of private operators should be commended.
Recall that during an exclusive chat with MMS Plus newspaper in Abuja last year, the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing revealed the revenue for the road wasn’t captured in the Ministry’s 2017 budget and it is also not captured in the 2018 budget which is yet to be signed by President Mohammadu Buhari.
The Director, Highway Planning and Development at the Transport Ministry, Engr. Chukwuwike Uzo who was speaking on behalf of the Minister, Mr. Babatunde Fashola explained that the Tin Can road infrastructure wasn’t captured in the budget as a result of zoning as the pressure from other zones and states in the country forced the Ministry to diversify projects.
Engr. Uzo noted that the Lagos-Ibadan expressway and the Apapa-Wharf roads were laudable projects which have been highlighted by other States as sufficient projects for Lagos state.
Engr. Uzo also dismissed speculations that the ongoing reforms on the Apapa-Wharf road would stretch to the Oshodi-Apapa axis, especially the Tin-Can- Coconut stretch which has become characterized by gigantic pot holes, gullies and dirt.
“The budgetary allocation we are getting this year would determine what we can achieve, although, we have a plan but the Oshodi-Apapa is not in the budget. I have witnessed firsthand the challenge of transiting the road after spending over four hours on that axis in a traffic-jam after an event in Apapa” he said.