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 Mile2 /Tin Can en-route Apapa has been under rehabilitation for some time now. This hardship is not limited to high transportation costs for port users; the cost of evacuation of cargo from the port has also increased astronomically. To get trucks to carry cleared consignment from the port is equally part of the challenge as most trucks are trapped in the hinterland. Most freight forwarders who are in possession of Terminal Delivery Order are now chasing the few trucks that are available and leaving them at the mercy of transporters who have exploitative tendencies. This is one of the reasons we in NAGAFF keep advocating for a multimodal transformation system.
The impact of the closure is biting hard on businesses and people residing around Apapa environs. It has been a bad experience because it would lead to a build-up 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 happened earlier than now because the country is back to normal 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.
It is nothing to write home about because there is no access road for containers to get to their various destinations. The bridge remains the major route by which cargoes are evacuated from the port. Let us not forget that Apapa is home to Nigeria’s two busiest ports – Apapa and Tin Can Island, which together account for about 75 percent of the total export and import activities in Nigeria. The port city also harbours industrial estate and residential areas, but the city has become notorious for traffic jams, with motorists sometimes trapped for five or more hours within the area. The gridlock and congestion in Apapa have not only made life miserable for residents and business owners in the port city, but are also hurting and squeezing the real sector and the economy as a whole. Several businesses and residents have had to relocate from the port community in the last 10 years as the traffic situation seems to defy every solution. I urge the government to hasten work on the bridge so it can be opened for use.
The impact of the closure of the Marine Bridge has worsened port operation. The truth is that the situation will remain the same for some time 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. Repairs have to be hastened up for things to come back to normal. I know alternative routes have been provided but still matters are worse because containers still queue to get into the port and even the ones in the port can’t find their way out.