The Senate Committee on Marine Transport has assured that the committee will facilitate the outstanding payment of N1.5 billion owed by the Federal Ministry of Works to contractors working at the Tin can Island truck holding bay to ensure its speedy completion.
Chairman of the committee, Sanni Ahmed Yerima made the promise yesterday during a stakeholders meeting held with representatives of the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA), Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) and the Maritime Truck Owners Association (AMATO) among others on ways of addressing the Apapa gridlock.
Yerima who had earlier in company of the management of NPA led the committee to inspect the truck holding bay located opposite Tin can Island Port said the visit of the committee was necessitated by a motion recently passed by the upper legislative chamber which directed it to visit the port and meet with relevant stakeholders on how to find a lasting solution to the gridlock.
The motion, sponsored by Senator Olurami Tinubu and supported by 106 Senators, was passed based on a letter to the Senators by Ships & Ports Communication Company urging legislative action on the perennial gridlock.
He said the committee would work to ensure the contractors go back to site to complete the construction work, which he said was 95 percent complete.
According to him, when completed, the truck holding bay will serve as an immediate solution and in the short term reduce the persistent gridlock along the Apapa/Oshodi axis which he described as a national disaster.
“What we did was to go and see the problem for ourselves and see how best we can quickly solve this problem. We want to come out with short-term plan, medium and long term plan as a final way of making sure that this problem never comes back again.
“The contractor has already done about 95 percent and all that is needed is payment of about N1.5billion to be paid. We will go and pursue to a logical conclusion and see that the payment is made so that the place can be completed and in the short run reduce the traffic by directing all the trucks to park there. So we are really going to work,” he said.
Also speaking, Chairman Senate Committee on Works, Kabiru Gaya said his committee was aware that the construction work at the truck holding bay was put on hold because of the variation that ought to have been paid to the contractors.
He however assured that the committee would insist that the Ministry of Works pays the outstanding so that the work could be completed.
He urged all the stakeholders to put all hands on deck while assuring that all suggestions and resolutions reached at the meeting will be presented to the Senate in plenary where it will be deliberated upon.
In his remarks, representative of the Lagos State Governor, Engr. Adebola Matanmi said it would be a great relieve to the Lagos State Government if the committee is able to assist in finding solutions to the gridlock which he said has been a major concern to the Lagos State Government.
On his part, Managing Director, Nigerian Port Authority, Mallam Habib Abdulahi said the presence of tank farm located along the port area is one of the major factors which have contributed to the gridlock.
He advised that the loading of petroleum products should be diverted to other states in the short term while the Federal Government works at making the rail lines functional to reduce the vehicular movement around the port area.
Other stakeholders present at the meeting suggested the use of intermodal transport system, effective traffic management system as well as strict enforcement of road traffic laws as part of effort to reduce the gridlock.
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