• As Osinbajo Holds Public, Private Sector Parley
• Work Begins On Apapa-Oworonshoki Expressway Next Week- Dangote
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, on Tuesday in Abuja hosted giants of corporate Nigeria, including Alhaji Aliko Dangote, President Dangote Group; Oba Otudeko, Chairman, Honeywell Group and Abdulsamad Rabiu, chairman, Bua Group over the perennial problems of the nation’s port city- Apapa, particularly how to speedily and comprehensively resolve the issue.
At the event tagged: Government/Private sector meeting, a statement by Laolu Akande Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity, said Osinbajo directed the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) implement clear objectives to tackle the Apapa traffic gridlock.
While the Dangote Group will carry out palliative works and reconstruct some major sections of the Apapa port road to be completed by June/July 2018; Honeywell Group is to construct a trailer park, while BUA Group will carry out construction works on the Tin Can road.
The private sector stakeholders made the commitments as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility.
Actions to be taken by the Ministry of Works and the Nigerian Ports Authority include reducing congestion and easing traffic; ensuring that empty containers within the Apapa area are relocated to holding bays.
Also, shipping companies will no longer to be allowed to operate holding bays within the Apapa Port location, just as tanks farms will no longer be permitted within the Apapa area.
As part of the deal, the Nigerian Ports Authority is to commence the process of licencing access to trailer parks and port location; advertisement seeking for expression of interests from private sector to operate trailer parks and holding bays within the Tin Can Island area to be issued; while government is to establish a task force to manage the flow of traffic within the Apapa and Tin Can Island environ.
“We should look at all the components and find a quick solution,” he assured.
Commenting at the meeting, Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, blamed the problem on the fact that whereas Nigerian ports had capacity for 34m metric tonnes of cargoes per annum, it has been far stretched to about 80m metric tonnes per annum.
He also identified poor traffic management as a major cause of the persistent gridlock along Apapa access roads.
On his part, Dangote assured that reconstruction work would begin on the Apapa-Oworonshoki Expressway by next week, adding that “everything, including the design, has been handed over… We will start work next week.
“The bidding process is going to go on where four, five contractors will bid. Anybody that wins the contract, we will fund the project under the agreement that we have,” adding that when completed, government will save money rather than the present situation where it loses over N10bn on daily basis.
Continuing, he said ”Apapa and Tin Can Island Ports handle about 80% percent of the cargoes that come into Nigeria.
“As we speak, some of our ships are waiting to come in from Lome and discharge. It is not because we don’t have anywhere to berth the ships but because all our operations are choked up because we have containers, general cargoes that have actually been there and we are not able to remove.
“But I am more worried about the smaller operators because for those that have imported, the charges are accumulating every day. Transport charge has almost doubled.”
Also speaking, managing director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Hadiza Usman, said stakeholders at the meeting noted the “need to move empty containers out of that location.
“So, we have received clear directives that all empty containers need to be taken to holding bay.
“Shipping companies cannot have ports locations within the ports anymore, so that will free a lot of traffic within the area.
“We have also noted the need for all tank farms owners to comply with the utilisation of holding bays. No more approvals of tank farms will be permitted within the Apapa area any longer.
“There is also full commitment of Dangote to complete the reconstruction of Apapa Wharf Road by June 2018, but palliative works will commence within the immediate period for Tin Can Island.
“There is decisive efforts by Vice President giving clear directives on the need for us to conclude on reconstruction, the trailer park on Tin Can Island will also be reconstructed within three months, so that we can have access to holding bays and trailer parks.
“The NPA is also licensing access to the trailer parks and port allocations; we are issuing advertisements seeking for expression of interests of some private sectors to operate some trailer parks and holding bays within the Tin Can Island area.
“We are embarking on that within the shortest period and we appeal to the exporters to work with us in traffic management, we are instituting strong task force that will manage the traffic inflow and outflow within the Apapa and Tin Can Island environ.
“This is an emergency for us and that is why we are here today to address these issues. We have seen the commitment from the Ministry of Works and the NPA will give support in any way we can.”
Both Fashola and Usman assured the Vice President that the issues will be tackled in a holistic way, not only to fix the problem, but also to support the Federal Government’s Ease of Doing Business reforms.
The meeting was also attended by the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, and representatives of the Inspector-General of Police and the Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs.