Bala Usman Moves to Decongest Apapa-Oshodi Expressway


•Wants automotive policy reviewed to address revenue loss at seaports
Eromosele Abiodun

In a bid to improve operations at the Apapa seaports and increase revenue for the federal government, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Ms. Hadiza Bala Usman, has stated that she will at a stakeholders’ meeting today present a holistic plan to free the Apapa-Oshodi expressway of the endemic gridlock on the road.

Bala Usman, who stated this during a tour of the terminals in the Tincan-Island seaport, disclosed that the stakeholders expected at the meeting included the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, terminal operators and other critical stakeholders at the Apapa ports.

However, she said contrary to the general belief, the gridlock was not only caused by the poor state of the road, but the absence of a holistic traffic management system.
According to her, “We have holding bays and trailer garages for the trailer drivers to park and hold pending when they are called upon to come and pick up their cargo.

“I think we need to do holistic traffic congestion management in this location and work closely with the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing in addressing this issue.

“It is one of our priority areas, we will assess our port development levy and ensure that there is decongestion around this area.
“The issue of decongestion of this road is critical, we have seen it during this tour and we will make a presentation during a stakeholders’ meeting and like I said we will do a holistic assessment of the traffic congestion on this road.

“We believe that beyond repairing the road, there is much more to be done jointly with the relevant ministries.”
On how soon this will be done, she said it would happen within the timeline that other stakeholders and critical participants are able to deploy the needed resources required, “because this is an assignment that is beyond the NPA”.

“We need to link up the Ministry of Works and the Lagos State Government to ensure compliance,” she explained.
While restating that the concessions at the ports would soon be reviewed, she said the issue of the holding bays that were concessioned might not be within the port complex, stressing that there was a need for the holding bays to be outside the ports.

That way, she said, “the NPA can regulate the traffic going into the ports complex.”
“We will holistically review this and determine what it is that is applicable as it relates to the holding bays inside the port complex and also outside.

“Indeed the NPA has premises as we have sighted now, there are locations that are owned by the NPA that can be used to provide such services at a commercial rate where users can pay a limited amount to keep their trucks, pending when they are called upon to come and collect their cargo,” she added.

On the need to review government policies that are discouraging importers and leading to the diversion of cargoes to ports in neighbouring countries, she said she has been engaging with the relevant government agencies to ensure the policies are reviewed.

“We are discussing with the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment regarding where we are with the federal government’s automotive policy because the federal government needs to review some of these policies to determine some of the benefits that will accrue to the government following the period of implementation.

“There has been a period of implementation of the policy; there is a need to look at it to determine the opportunities lost by the federal government as against the development of the automotive industry.

“This is on-going, we will aggressively sustain these discussions to ensure that in a timely manner, the government concludes its assessment of this policy and takes a decision on the way forward as it relates to the revenue being lost by the authority and also the development of the automobile industry itself,” she stated.

She also disclosed plans by the NPA to partner with the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) to improve rail facilities from the Lagos ports to the hinterland.
The NPA boss said this would necessarily improve the trade chain as the railways can be used to move large quantities of consignments real time.

“Regarding infrastructure, we are keen on ensuring that our rail lines from the ports to the hinterland function. We want to prioritise the evacuation of cargo using rail.
“We have had discussions with the Nigerian Railway Corporation. We are going to continue with that, and we believe that a percentage of our cargo should be evacuated using the rail lines,” she said.