The management of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) said it was taken aback by comments credited to Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola, on the current Apapa traffic gridlock and efforts to end it by stakeholders.
Fashola had visited Apapa three times in the past two weeks to monitor efforts aimed at curtailing the situation. During each visit, Fashola had criticised the Federal Government for abdicating its responsibility leading to the deterioration of roads in Apapa.
During his last visit on Sunday, the Lagos State Governor accused the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and other government agencies of fuelling the gridlock through negligence and corruption.
But in a swift reaction through a press release signed by its Assistant General Manager Public Afafairs, Musa Ilya yesterday, NPA said it was working with other major stakeholders whose operations have direct bearings on the activities in Apapa to find solution to the traffic build-up which had virtually paralysed business activities in the port city.
“For the avoidance of doubt and in order to clarify some issues arising from the comments of our chief host, it has become expedient to make the following submissions:
“Lagos State Government is surely one of the biggest beneficiaries of the port concessions in terms of the revenue it collects from importers as wharf landing fees, and other businesses generated by the port activities. Therefore one would expect his Excellency to be more circumspect in his assessment of the situations.
“It is important to appreciate also that in view of capacity deficiency of the roads within Apapa which were built in the 1970’s, the Federal Government awarded the contract for the rehabilitation of the Apapa-Oshodi Express Road to two reputable companies and work is on-going. Credit should be given to the Federal Government for this.
“The NPA also in response to the massive increase in the volume of cargo which has far outweighed the capacity of the road at inception by over 200%, had encouraged and supported the development of two major truck holding bays, situated at the Trade fair complex on Lagos Badagry Road and the Tin Can Island Ports, in order to properly control and manage the movement of trucks around the ports and the incidence of indiscriminate parking.
“Furthermore, the construction of the rail Tracks at the Lagos Ports Complex have been completed and linked to the National grid and movement of containers by rail have also commenced. This has reduced the pressure of delivery of cargo by road,” Ilya stated.
Musa said efforts by the Federal Government and the NPA to improve and sustain efficient road transport network within Apapa and its environs with the ultimate aim of improving cargo delivery within Apapa district.
He said, “While we appreciate the concerns of the Lagos State Governor over the situation, however, we appeal to the Governor to partner with the Federal Government, the NPA and other agencies concerned in order to find a lasting solution to the gridlock.
“Management gladly wish to invite His Excellency Governor Fashola to a facility tour of the Lagos port complex and Tin can Island Ports to see the huge investments made in upgrade of terminals, plants and equipment by the various terminal operators coupled with the massive infrastructure upgrades by the NPA in recent times all design to enhance efficiency within the Ports in Apapa.
“Our amiable Governor should see the NPA as a Federal Government agency which is doing all it could to ameliorate the suffering of stakeholders arising from the unfortunate gridlock on Apapa access road rather than adding to the problem.”