Apapa, the Aleppo of Lagos

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Aleppo is the largest ancient city of Syria, a country torn down by war. Torn between the government-held west and the rebel-held east, Aleppo, in the last four years, has become a metaphor for a decrepit and destroyed dwelling place with many of its 2-million plus inhabitants reduced to less than 600. For lack of a better word, the city has become a shadow of itself as it has long been a theatre of war.

I was in the Apapa district of Lagos last Tuesday, after over four months of not getting there, and I was shocked to find that Apapa is probably worse than Aleppo even when there is no war there or in any part of the country.  The road into Apapa is in a  ultra terrible state. There are two main entrances: the Mile 2–Tin-Can axis and the Ijora axis. None of the two entrances is in any good state. Driving into Apapa through the Ijora bridge was like going to hell. The multiplicity, depth and stretch of the craters made driving into the hitherto beautiful district a nightmare. The

With the rains, it just makes a bad road much messier and frustrating. Everywhere bore the signpost of criminal neglect. It was like the road of a war-torn territory.

With Apapa, there is hardly any question of why investors are scampering out of Nigeria.

This is the same Apapa that used to be an industrial hub and hundreds of many other business outfits including plenty of clearing and forwarding firms many of which had provided jobs to thousands of Nigerians in the 80’s through 90’s. This is the same Apapa that hosts the two busiest sea ports (Apapa Port and Tin Can Port) in Nigeria.  This is the headquarters of the Nigerian Ports Authority  (NPA) as well as  NIMASA.

This same Apapa plays host to Army, Police and Naval establishments.

What’s more, it hosts two leading national newspapers—THISDAY and BUSINESSDAY

To underscore the economic importance of Apapa, all the nation’s banks are operating in Apapa, with some even having more than three branches.

A large section of the community is purely a residential quarter; many of whom have been forced to move out of the once-beautiful GRA, since it had been seized by bedlam

No doubt, Apapa Local Government Area is one of the richest Local Government councils in Nigeria, what with the many petroleum product depots lining up the bank of the sea.

But that same Apapa has been a trouble spot for several years now. When it is not taken over by articulated trucks and tankers thus blocking off other road users, it is practically locked down by terribly collapsed roads. Several past efforts to manage the traffic in the area had not been enduring.

 Few years ago, the Lagos State government revamped many of the inner roads within the local government and thus making driving within the community,  a pleasure. But getting into Apapa has, for years, remained a terrifying challenge. Which serious and prospective businessman will go through all that trouble to set up an office or going concern in Apapa? Many offices and business outfits in the place have shut down and moved out. Yet, this is supposed to be an economic base for the country  that is so neglected, so abandoned! Is this not where the Nigeria Customs largely operate from where it generated N385.7 billion within the first six months of this year? How can such a money-spinning domain, be left to rot and waste? And we are looking for investors?

Under the Jonathan administration such level of insensitivity would have been riled to no end. But here we are with a new government that raised our hopes so high on how a country can be run, but alas, nothing seems to have changed.

Can somebody tell Mr Babatunde Fashola, the Ministers of Works, Housing and Energy, to please come to the rescue of Apapa, if not for the convenience of the workers and residents of this community, then for the economic significance Apapa stands for, and save the community from the Aleppo ghost.  many of which had provided jobs to thousands of Nigerians