Chairman, Seaport Terminal Association of Nigeria (STOAN), Princess Vicky Haastrup has said that the gridlock being experienced in Apapa is a direct consequence of system failure in the oil and gas industry logistics chain.
Haastrup, who is also the Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of ENL Consortium – operators of Terminals C and D of the Lagos Port Complex Apapa – said the only way to solve the gridlock is to immediately suspend the lifting of imported petroleum products from tank farms by road.
“There is an over-concentration of oil tank farms in Apapa, an area predominantly designed for port operations. There is now a situation where we have proliferation of oil tank farms without regards for the safety logistics implication.
“I issued a warning over five years ago advising government to discontinue tank farm operations in Apapa but nothing was done. The problem is now staring all of us in the face.
“Port operations have been brought to a virtual standstill as a result of this chaos created by tank farm and oil tankers and it does not look like anyone is doing anything drastic about it.
“We have a situation where over 10,000 tankers descend on Apapa daily and when you add this to the number of conventional trucks on routine maritime operations, it is not surprising that we have the kind of gridlock we are currently witnessing,” she said.
She lamented that there are about 60 tank farms operating in Apapa.
On the immediate solution to the problem, Haastrup said, “There must be immediate suspension of the evacuation of petroleum products from Apapa by road. The authorities must immediately activate the use of barges in petroleum products evacuation.
“Petroleum products meant for the northern part of the country should be moved to Lokoja and Baro Ports by barges while the trucks collect them from there rather than coming to Apapa.
“Petroleum products meant for the South East and South South should be moved by barges to Onitsha Port, Warri Port, Port Harcourt Port and Calabar Port. The trucks then go to those places to pick up and distribute.
“This is the way to go and this will immediately reduce the number of tankers coming to Apapa to a manageable number.
“Ultimately and on the long run, the incoming government should get our refineries working to reduce the nation’s avoidable dependence on importation of petroleum products. The tank farms in Apapa must also be relocated to allow a breath of fresh air for port operation,” Haastrup said.
She said port operators and their staff have been worse hit by the gridlock as the various operators have suffered “substantial losses” since the gridlock set in.
“Terminal operators, government, shipping companies, clearing agents and the entire maritime industry is hemorrhaging as a result of this unfortunate situation.
“The gridlock also has serious and dire consequences on the economy,” she added.
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