Teddy Nwanunobi, Abuja
Apparently worried by the gridlock menace at the nation’s main ports in the Apapa area of Lagos State, the Senate, on Wednesday, directed the Federal Ministry of Works and the Lagos State Government to immediately resume the rehabilitation of the roads leading to the ports with a view to tackling the gridlock in the area.
The directive followed the submission of the report of the Committee on Marine Transport by its Chairman, Senator Ahmed Sani, on the investigation of the motion by Senator Oluremi Tinubu and 106 others on the Apapa Port gridlock in December 2015.
Accordingly, the Committee said that the two construction firms handling the rehabilitation of the main road leading to the Apapa Port left the site because the Federal Ministry of Works was owing them N11.7 billion.
In its report, the panel also claimed that the contractors handling the construction of the Trunk Holding Bay also left the site because the firm was being owed N1.5 billion, despite the fact that the project was about 90 percent completed.
The Senate, therefore, asked the Lagos State Government to equally carry out repairs of adjoining roads to the expressway.
It asked the Nigerian Police, Federal Roads Safety Corps (FRSC) and the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) to ensure effective traffic control and enforcement of all traffic rules in the area.
Apart from this, the senate directed the ports concessionaire and tank farm owners to provide ample parking space for their trucks and carry out development in accordance with their lease agreement.
It also asked the Nigerian Port Authority and the federal ministry of works to begin the process of removing structures on Right of Ways and other locations that are impending smooth traffic flow.
Apart from this the upper chamber gave the tank farm owners to within the next six months, develop loading bays for trucks while the Lagos State government, should expedite action on the loading bay being planned for the trade fair complex.
It asked the Department of Petroleum Resources and the Nigerian Port Authority should expedite action on the repairs of the Atlas Cove Jetty, and the pipelines that could transfer products to Mosimi and Ilorin with adequate security.
It equally sought recommended the relocation of tank farms from Apapa to areas like Lekki, Ikorordu, Port Harcourt, Warri and Calabar in order to decongest the Apapa and Tin can island axis.
Moving her motion last year, Tinubu in her lead debate, had noted that 75 percent of Nigeria’s trade is ship-borne and shipped through the Apapa Port, where cargo and petroleum products bearing trucks regularly cause gridlock on Apapa-Mile 2 and Apapa-Oshodi corridors.
The lawmaker added that the trucks also pack on bridges and flyovers for days and weeks.
She expressed her concern that the perennial logjam on all access roads in the Apapa maritime corridor has resulted in telling consequences on the country’s economy.
She regretted the obvious non-compliance of the world class and notable local marine operators with the 25 years Lagos Port concession terms to modernize port facilities, provide free flowing shipping activities is responsible for the sustained incidence of traffic lockdown of the Apapa shipping corridor.
She observed that the Apapa Port terminals are critical integral part of “our national inter-modal transportation chain that bear directly on Nigeria’s maritime/economic activities”.
Tinubu said she was mindful of the huge national security, human and environmental risk of the present traffic situation in the Apapa maritime axis, arising from deadly fumes and falling containers as a result of bad roads.