By Shulammite ‘Foyeku
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola on Wednesday said the Federal Government lacked sufficient funds to repair the severely dilapidated roads leading into and out of the Apapa area.
The poor state of the roads coupled with luck of truck parks and the proliferation of tank farms have been responsible for the menacing gridlock that characterises the port city.
But speaking in Lagos on Wednesday at business meeting organised by the Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA) Nigeria, Fashola said the only option open to government in repairing the roads was to explore public private partnership.
“Although federal roads constitute 18 percent of the total road network, it accounts for about 90 percent of the freight coming from our seaport. Thus the need to improve and upgrade this road to our various seaports is very vital.
“It is clear that we cannot fix Nigerian roads with government balance sheet – it is not possible. So it must be Public Private Partnership and that is one of the things that are happening in the country now,” the Minister, who was represented by his Special Assistance, Technical Affairs, Kabiru Hamzat, said.
He however assured that a truck park being built by the Federal Government opposite the Tin Can Island Port Complex will be completed soon as work on it has reached an advance 96 per cent.
”As the gridlock increases around Apapa port, some of the things we are doing is the trailer park because we must be able to get the trailers off the road. A 340-trailer park at Apapa is about 96 percent completed. What is left is the shoreline protection because it was built facing the Apapa waters,” he said.
A former Director, Commercial Shipping Services of Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Mrs Dabney Shal- Holma, said while over 90 percent of cargoes are evacuated by road, the inland waterways remain largely unused.
She said, ”There is one major artery for moving cargo in and out of the port that we have neglected all these years and that is the inland waterways.
“We can transfer cargo by barges. The benefits are enormous. When you are moving a truck on the road, you are only able to carry 25, 000 metric tonnes whereas if you are to move by badge it will carry what 1,050 trucks would carry at a given time.
“It can pull a lot more cargo and remove about 216 rail carriers from the rail part from blocking our rails in the communities.”
President of WISTA, Mrs. Mary Hamman said that the association has over the years provided avenue for industry stakeholders to discuss and proffer solutions to issues in the maritime industry.
She said the association has continued to champion growth and sustainable project which empowers women in the industry to be in the forefront, of advising the government on maritime related issues.
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