Port users and residents of Apapa said they are suffering untold hardship as a result of the closure of the Marine Beach Bridge, Apapa by the Lagos State Government.
The bridge was closed in May for repairs and will remain closed until October 21, Lagos State Commissioner for Transportation, Frederic Oladeinde, said in a statement on May 24.
But some of the residents and port users who spoke with SHIPS & PORTS during the weekend, said the closure of the bridge has also slowed down the rate of evacuation of cargo from the Apapa port.
One of the port users, Stanley Ezenga, said, “The impact of the partial closure of Marine bridge in Apapa has caused untold hardship on Apapa commuters. Being the only entry and access road to the port community. Recall that the Mile/Tin Can enroute Apapa has been under rehabilitation for some time now. This hardship is not limited to high transportation cost of passengers; the cost of evacuation of cargo from the port has increased astronomically.
“Procurement of truck to carry cleared consignment from the port is equally part of the challenge as most trucks are trapped in the hinterland. The law of demand and supply applied as most freight forwarders who are in possession of terminal delivery orders (TDOs) are now chasing the few trucks that are available there by leaving them at the mercy of transporters who have exploitative tendencies.”
Another port respondent, David Pius said the closure of the bridge is “biting hard on businesses and people residing around Apapa environs”.
He said, “It has been a bad experience because it would lead to a buildup of cargo inside the port and lead to port congestion. Although, I must commend the efforts of the Federal Government for addressing the issue of bad roads and the poor state of the bridge but I feel this should have earlier than now because the country is back to norm now. Containers will be delayed on the road and we know what damages these trucks cause on the road and also to the road. In no time, vessel queues will return and Nigerian ports run the risk of returning to the point where they were prior to port concession.”
Emeka Chukwumalu, who also spoke on the closure of the bridge, said the closure of the bridge has compounded the Apapa gridlock, which has led to “several businesses and residents” relocating “from the port community”.
“I urge the government to hasten work on the bridge so it can be opened for use,” he said.
Jude Amalu also said that the closure has worsened the traffic situation in Apapa.
“The truth is that the situation will remain the same for some while till the repairs are fully done. The roads cannot accommodate the traffic of vehicles that call at the ports daily. We need to move out of the current analogue stage we currently operate. We need to put in place a modern technology that will monitor and regulate the movement of trucks that enter and exit the ports.”
He advised the government to hasten the repair work on the bridge.