As the access road to the ports in Lagos get messier, Customs officers at Tin Can Port now ride commercial motorcycles, popularly called okada to work. The situation, SHIPS & PORTS DAILY gathered began when the officers discovered that they could no longer get to work early no matter how they tried because of the dilapidated nature of the road.
The officers now resort to parking their vehicles around the Mile 2 area of Lagos from where they take Okada to work. Investigations show that some of them while rushing to work have fallen off the bike only to clean up themselves when they got to the office.
Close sources said that on one or two occasions, even the Customs Area Controller of Tin Can Island Port Command, Yusuf Bashir was forced to fly on Okada to beat traffic on the road to keep an appointment.
A Customs officer who spoke to SHIPS & PORTS DAILY in anonymity said that the worst thing that had happened to the Port is the access road as it has affected productivity in many ways not just on the side of Customs. “It is so disheartening that in this age of globalization and emphasis on ease of doing business, this road which leads to the country’s premier ports has been left in bad state for a longtime without the government thinking on the chain effect even on investment. This port makes almost N1billion daily for the government and Apapa port almost double of that and yet the road to these ports has been abandoned by the government. Does it not show that we are not getting our priorities right and we want to get out of recession, he asked.
He said that in this digital age, the road has given the country very bad image globally as investors consider us unserious when they read so many reports that have been written about this road without the government acting on it.
“Look at me. Look at my level, I use okada to work. If some overzealous person takes the picture and posts it on the internet, do you think it will give a good image to the country overseas but that has become the norm here,” he declared.
Public Relations Officer of the Command Uche Ejesieme confirmed that some Custom officers park their cars in some places and use Okada to work. He said that the dilapidated nature of the road has remained serious concern to the Command as impacts on the productive capacity of the ports generally.
“Apapa and Tincan Ports are the biggest ports in Nigeria which generates a lot of revenue for the government. The officers and other operators that work in the port go through a lot to get here and in the process a lot of man hour is lost. I will encourage every effort being made presently by the government to fix the roads,” he said.
Public anger about the port access road in Lagos boiled over last month when clearing agents and truck owners embarked on a strike to protest the sufferings they go through and why government must fix it or there would be unending crisis.
To calm the protesters, the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) said it would raise N4.3 billion to reconstruct the roads soon while the Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Babatunde Fashola said the road is a priority project for the government.
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