Apapa gridlock destroying Nigeria’s economy, says LCCI

The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has said that the perennial gridlock on the Apapa-Oshodi expressway and other access roads leading to the ports in Lagos is destroying businesses and the economy of the country.

Speaking at its 2014 quarterly press conference on the economy in Lagos, the President of LCCI, Alhaji Remi Bello, lamented the total collapse of transportation logistics and access to the major ports in the country – Apapa and Tin Can Island Port complexes, saying this has brought about an urgent need to relocate the tank farms to the outskirts of the city.

Bello said getting to the ports has become an unprecedented nightmare; moving out of the ports is even a greater nightmare, saying that the entire system has become totally dysfunctional and delivery of empty containers and the evacuation of cargo has become a terrifying experience.

He said, “To fix these, there is urgent need to relocate the tank farms to the outskirts of the city.  Current location of the tank farms is a major factor in the huge traffic congestion. They also constitute a serious safety hazards to citizens.

“There is an urgent need to revive the rail system for the purpose of evacuating cargo from the Lagos ports; urgent need to make the refineries functional to reduce importation of petroleum products which will reduce the convergence of tankers at the various ports and an urgent need to improve the reliability, safety and integrity of pipelines across the country as a means of moving petroleum products.

“This in fact, is the most efficient and cost effective mode of transportation of petroleum products.”

He noted that this development has been taking its toll on the private sector and the entire economy, especially in frequent accidents resulting from fallen containers in transit because of the state of the roads and high demurrage resulting from the slow evacuation of cargo.

He disclosed that charges by haulage vehicles had increased astronomically because of the long travel time as well as turnaround time resulting from the slow pace of cargo evacuation from the ports, paralysis of other businesses along the axis because of reduced patronage due to reduced access by customers.

He is of the view that the development has had profound adverse impact on the welfare of citizens that are resident in these locations and posed a serious risk to the many bridges and flyovers along the axis which carry heavy load of stationary vehicles, including tankers for several hours.

He further commented on the new cement grade policy, saying that the new policy, which specifies high grades of cement for building, plastering and pillars, is seen by most operators to affect their turnover.

He noted that there was no enough transmission time allowed for operators to adjust their plants and inputs.

“The few available were highly priced,” he said.

He noted among others that many technically skilled labour have taken up the job of commercial motorcyclists which apparently was relatively more financially rewarding; late passage and signing of the appropriate bill; high cost of building materials, especially cement and iron rods, late payment for work done and duly certified.

“The policy implication is that there is need for more government investment in vocational and technical education. There should also be a deliberate policy to reduce cost of building materials.  Governments at all levels should as well promptly pay contractors after due certification,” he stated.

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