Apapa Gridlock: NPA, Lagos to Partner on Holding Bays

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Eromosele Abiodun

As part of efforts to end the traffic gridlock in Apapa, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Ms Hadiza Bala-Usman has disclosed that the authority has concluded arrangement to work with the Lagos State Government to create holding bays for trucks and tankers.

She stated this yesterday when she inspected the progress of work at the ongoing reconstruction sites at Apapa.

Addressing newsmen during the tour, the NPA helms-person observed that the Federal Government was interested in ensuring that the ‘Gateway to the nation’s Economy- the ports’ were effectively and efficiently serviced in order to tap into the financial dividends accruable to the national economy.

According to her, “This would impact most positively on the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).”
Usman stated that the inspection was part of the NPA’s aggressive continuous monitoring strategy at ensuring that all the components required to meet deadlines are achieved.

Similarly, she noted that efforts are being made by the federal government to facilitate express funding of the project, which she stressed would create a more enabling environment for doing business at the ports on completion and subsequently attract investment in the sub sector.

Hadiza postulated that the federal government would appreciate swifter operational deployment by the construction company A G Dangote whilst assuring port users of quality of work already achieved.

Speaking further, Hadiza said, “Efficiency is key in the NPA management’s operation, thus, all stones would be turned to actualise the reason for the ports’ roads rehabilitation, which basically cascades to the stimulation of the ease of doing business at the ports across the country.”

She noted that the role of Holding Bays in decongesting the traffic gridlock in Apapa was critical, pointing out that a licensing regime on the subject is being perfected between the NPA and the Lagos State Government, to enable operators in this regard to have access into the ports and function under guided directives.

Informing stakeholders of the deployment of an electronic device in the management of access into the ports – biometrics, Hadiza appealed to them to be patient while the road reconstruction lasts.

She urged them to also contribute to the project realisation by abiding strictly with necessary directives put out in respect of this in order for all in the sector to uphold an atmosphere of customer satisfaction.

Usman, further urged AG Dangote, the contractor handling Apapa/Wharf Road to improve on its performance. She made the plea after inspecting the Wharf access roads alongside her management team in Lagos, noting that better performance would reduce the stress in doing business at the ports.

“The construction commenced on July 17 and they have not been able to reach the optimum performance as expected. They are still within one to two per cent completion stage and one to two per cent of what they required to deploy within this period.

“They have indicated the concerns and constraints they have around relocation of utilities, they have identified and found gas pipelines underneath the road works. They are working on relocating roads and they also identified electric cables and poles that need to be relocated and other forms of utilities. I had made them understood that their level of performance is unacceptable; they need to increase and deploy more efficiently,” Usman said.

She frowned on the level of construction being done on Apapa/Wharf road, adding that the level of construction was slow.

The NPA boss explained that the two-kilometre road would be completed within a year as stipulated; adding that the concern expressed by the contractor would be resolved. Usman asked the contractor to ensure he deployed all the equipment he promised to provide.

She said she would be visiting the site once a month to check the progress as well as any bottleneck within the construction area.

She said the NPA was working with the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing to rehabilitate all the ports access roads in the country to ensure level playing field and also to facilitate trade. She said NPA and the Ministry would develop a mechanism of funding all reconstruction and rehabilitation of ports access roads.

Usman also observed that the Apapa Port had been illuminated for 24-hour port operations and that the authority was working toward an electronic gate system to stop touting within the ports environment.

The Project Manager, Mrs. Kesha Olukorede, an official of the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, said the major issue at the site was relocating the gas pipeline discovered on the road.

“We encountered gas pipeline in the course of the project which stopped the project for some time; we also encountered another gas pipeline in the middle of the road.

“As we speak, we are waiting for the owner of the gas pipeline to come to us to look for a way out. We want the owner of the pipeline to write an undertaking that in future, they have to cut the pipeline very well and restore it at their own expense,” Olukorede said.

The inspection took the Executive Management team through the Apapa and Tin Can access road.