The Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, the Federal Ministry of Works and the Lagos Government have concluded plans resolve the perennial traffic gridlock on port access roads, with the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway noted as an eye-sore.
Already, the Managing Director of the NPA, Ms Hadiza Bala- Usman will today meet with other stakeholders and present a holistic plan to free Apapa-Oshodi Expressway of the endemic traffic gridlock on the road.
Bala- Usman who stated this during tour of terminals in the Tin Can-Island Port disclosed that apart from the Lagos State Government and the officials of the Federal Ministry of Works, other stakeholders expected at the meeting include the terminal operators and other critical stakeholders at the Apapa port.
However, she said against the general belief, the gridlock is not only as a result of the poor state of the roads but lack of holistic traffic management system.
According to her, “We have holding bays and trailer garages for the trailer drivers to pack and hold pending when they are called upon to come and pick up their cargo.
“I think we need to do holistic traffic congestion in this location and work closely with the Ministry of Works and Housing in addressing this issue.
“It is one of our priority areas; we will access our port development levy and ensure that there is decongestion around this area.
“The issue of decongestion of this road is critical, we have seen it during this tour and we will make a presentation during a stakeholders meeting and like I said we will do a holistic assessment of the traffic congestion on this road. We believe that beyond repairing the road there is much more to be done jointly with the relevant ministries. “
On how soon this will be done, she said it will happen within the timeline that other stakeholders and critical participant are able to deploy the needed resources required, saying that “ because this is an assignment that is beyond the NPA.
“We need to link up the Ministry of Works and the Lagos State Government to ensure compliance.”
While restating that the concession agreement will soon be reviewed, she said the issue of the holding bays that were concessioned might not be within the port complex, stressing that there is a need for the holding bays to be outside the ports.
That way, she said, the NPA can regulate the traffic going into the ports complex, “We will holistically review this and determine what it is that is applicable as it relates to holding bays inside the port complex and also outside. Indeed, the NPA has premises as we have sighted now, there are locations that are owned by the NPA that can be used to provide such services at commercial rate where users can pay a limited amount to keep their trucks pending when they are called upon to come and collect their cargo.”
On the need to review government policies that are discouraging importers and taking cargoes to ports in neighboring countries, she said she was engaging relevant government agencies to ensure the policies are reviewed.
“We are discussing with the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment as regarding where we are following the federal government’s automotive policy because the federal government needs to review some of these policies to determine some of the benefits that will accrue to the government following the period of implementation.
“There has been a period of implementation of the policy; there is a need to look at it to determine the opportunities lost by the federal government as against the development of the automotive industry.
This is ongoing, we will aggressively sustain this discussion to ensure that in a timely manner the government concludes its assessment of this policy and take a decision on the way forward as relates to the revenue been lost by the authority and also the development of the automobile industry itself, “she stated.
She also disclosed plans by the NPA to partner the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) to improve rail facilities from the Lagos ports to the hinterlands.
The NPA boss said the effort would necessarily improve the trade chain as the railway can be used to move large quantities of consignments real time.
“Regarding infrastructure, we are keen on ensuring that our rail lines from the ports to the hinterlands function. We want to prioritize the evacuation of cargo using rail. We have had discussions with the NRC. We are going to continue on that, and we believe that a percentage of our cargo should be evacuated using the rail lines, ”she said.