It will not be an exaggeration to say that due to the dilapidated roads leading to the port city, accessibility to the Lagos ports have become more difficult than it would take the camel to pass through the eye of the needle.
Those who pass though the roads leading to the ports may have lost count or not actually worry about taking note of the exact number of containers that have fallen off moving trucks, but it certainly cannot be fewer than 10 in the last one week.
While the Tin Can Island axis of the Apapa-Oshodi expressway has become impassable, making it quite difficult for motorists; trucks and cars alike, to have easy access into the port, the Ijora area leading to the Apapa port leaves nothing to desire about the road.
Beyond being a regular sight since the rains started, the last one week has been more of a nightmare for trucks carrying containers to and from the Apapa port. With the gullies on each side of the roads are filled with rain water that have nowhere to go to, the trucks are left to struggle to pass and in most cases get stuck, which causes the containers to fall off.
This situation has undoubtedly been worrisome to the truck owners, likewise the owners of the cargoes. And as long as this continues, it means that there is break in the chain of trade. It is a known fact that local or international trade is only complete when goods get to their final destination.
In this sense, answers should be given to the questions of who should really be held responsible and what ought to have been done.
It is evident therefore that the series of promises and declaration of actions on trade facilitation are mere speech-making because facilitating trade should be an inclusive effort, considering every bit that makes the whole.
It is pitiful therefore that when the port reform was thought of and planned, the framework did not include an expansion or dedicated maintenance of the roads leading to the ports. At different times and on several occasions, stakeholders have raised and talked so much on the issue, but like a merry-go-round, headed nowhere.
If the authorities concerned would think of it objectively, then they should rationalise what it is for the same infrastructure (the road) that was built over half a century not to have been improved. Without bias, the same authorities should know that when the roads were built the population of people using the facility was not even half of what it is today. Certainly, development plans within the port city have only been restricted to putting up more buildings to house more businesses that are run by people who have to use the only existing roads.
For the records therefore, the Association of Maritime Truck Owners had earlier this year called attention to the fact that their drivers suffered on daily basis owing to the bad roads leading to the Lagos ports.
According to the association, nobody cared to evaluate the conditions under which they carried out their duty. They noted that while they tried to be responsible to their civic responsibility of paying taxes and dues, concerned authorities never cared to keep their own side of the bargain.
Each time an appraisal of the maritime industry is done, pockets of challenges are highlighted as reasons why the nation may continue to suffer diversion of vessels to ports of neighbouring countries.
It should be understandable that with this condition of roads leading in and out of the port city, many importers will prefer to use other such ports to avoid suffering loses when their cargoes have to be moved to final destination. After all, business transactions don’t begin and end inside the ports.