Well, life is about improvement. The users of the road; the government, truck owners, residents and freight forwarders, I believe have witnessed a little bit of improvement. We have to be sincere. The evidence is visible in terms of what truck drivers charge for freight. When the road was terribly bad, to move a-40ft containers from Apapa or Tin-Can to Trade Fair cost about N600,000 but today it has come down to N200,000. That means there is improvement. However, because of the quick return of the rains coupled with the fact that the roads are still not quite okay the whole road from Tin-Can now down to Mile 2 is flooded; it has made the road inaccessible. Because you wouldn’t know where to put the tyre if you are carrying containers for instance. So, the road is constantly now jam packed, even worse than before the rainscame. In a way, the gridlock has returned in fullness.
No, it’s getting worse. The road from Marine Bridge to Apapa is tiny and the gridlock, the parking of vehicle on the road, is not helping matters. We have traffic from inside the port and outside the port. That means the road is not the issue, the issue we have is the port operators. The federal government can do something where they can have bays to store empty containers. This would ensure many trucks are taken off the road. When they load container out, they have load export before they can take them. Shipping operators don’t normally receive the empty containers until empty vessels have arrived. Within the terminals, the space for empty containers is small that is why trailers are parked along the road. So,it is not just the bad roads but the shipping companies operating in the ports also contribute to the problem.
There is still gridlock in Apapa because the roads are bad. All the trailers are supposed to be in a park. They should only come into the port when they are needed not for them to line up on the road and bridges. That is what is causing the gridlock. The solution is for truck owners to have a park. I heard government has provided a park for truckers. They should stay in the park until they have their Terminal Delivery Order and it is confirmed that they are ready to load. Then they can go into the ports. That way, there won’t be bribery and corruption because that will be costs the importer more money by adding to the freight charges.The society eventually feels the impact because the importer will transfer all these costs to his goods and we all suffer it in the market.
The answer is yes and no. Yes, to a reasonable extent. To a little extent it has improved but the improvement cannot be felt at all levels. It has improved because of the cost of transportation has reasonably dropped. Before it used to N450,000 but now N250,000 or N300,000 for cargo freight. But the improvement we are seeing is not guaranteed; it may last only two to three weeks because the main problem is not being addressed. I have never really believed that the bad roads are the problem we have. The major problem is the port. Most of the shipping lines owners are using the port as a holding bay; this should not be. Before now we have a space in the port where empty containers laden trucks are allowed to enter and those trucks were offloaded for immediate re-exportation of those empty containers to the source. But now it is no longer the case because that space is no more available. As long as there is no place where a vehicle is allowed to move and empties offloaded with ease, the problem is going to continue. Shipping lines are not in haste to address the issue because they are not losing anything. They collect their demurrage. They did not provide a space where empties can be dropped. They did not provide a space where trucks can enter for ease removal of the containers. Yet, they will keep collecting their charges. Even if it takes one month for the vehicle to find its space and to move out the containers they will keep collecting their charges. As long as they are allowed with that impunity there is not going to be any solution in sight. If you like tar the whole road of Apapa, the problem will continue because there are no holding bays. There are no spaces where you can drop empties. Every day a vessel drops 3,000 containers and goes back empty. That is the major problem.
Not at all. Had it been the traffic has improved we would have followed the normal route from Coconut down to Tin-Can, fromTin-Can down to Apapa but the reverse is the case. Instead we go through Surulere or Ajegunle. It has not improved at all. There is so much breakdown of vehiclesespecially trailers and tankers; many of them are not in good condition. They are not supposed to be on the road. When the road is motorable, the road users will be able to use it well without nay hassle but now, the roads are bad.