Apapa Gridlock: How Successive Govts Failed to Construct Truck Terminal Approved by Gowon in 1973

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Eromosele Abiodun

The failure of successive governments since 1973 to construct a truck terminal approved by the military government of General Yakubu Gowon before its overthrow is responsible for the mess of today in the port city, THISDAY investigation has revealed. The terminal approved for construction west of Apapa Road, was designed with 800 trucks capacity, living accommodation for 200 drivers, cafeteria, vehicle servicing facility, and telephone link with Apapa quays for coordinating requests for vehicles.

The contract, now valued between N120 billion and N200 billion, was originally awarded to Gufantti Nigeria Limited by the Gowon government and Chief Femi Okunu, then Commissioner for Works and Housing.

In a memorandum presented to the Supreme Military Council, referenced EC (68) 36th Meeting, Conclusion 7(4), the Commissioner for Works and Housing had stated, “Council, in the conclusion quoted above, agreed to the inclusion of the Truck Terminal in the Apapa Road Contract and approved the sum of N1, 200,000 for the construction of the Truck Terminal with a capacity of 800 vehicles, on a site west of Apapa Road.

“Council also approved the award of the contract for the hydraulic sand fill to the Westminster Dredging Company, subject to a ceiling of N374, 000.”

He added, “The truck terminal has always been part of the Apapa Road/Ijora Causeway project as a necessary complement to remove the vehicle congestion outside the port area and make full use of the Apapa Road/Ijora Complex. This terminal, in addition to parking facilities, will have living accommodation and cafeteria for lorry drivers, vehicle servicing facilities, and a telephone link with Apapa Quays for co-coordinating requests for vehicles at any one time. Provision is made under head 624 subhead 156A of the 11973/74 approved capital estimates for the construction of the truck terminal.

“The works involved, described as contracts 1264 A and B, consist of the construction of an interlocking flexible pavement of ‘Trieff’ blocks in parking area for 600 vehicles, roads, provision of access bituminous pavement on Kayode Street, drainage works, water mains and ducts for telephones and electricity cables. The works also include the erection of a three-storey hostel to accommodate 200 people (2 persons per room), cafeteria with cooking facilities, an administrative building for the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) officials and police and a workshop.”

The commissioner explained that in view of the specialist nature, “And because of the type of pavement required for the parking area, i.e. interlocking flexible pavement of ‘Trieff’ blocks, and the complicated piling works and reinforced concrete columns required for the hostel building, I approved a list of 10 contractors of proven ability to be invited to tender. Only three of the 10 contractors submitted tenders; and they are all major contractor who have satisfactorily carried out large-scale civil engineering contracts for the Federal Military Government.”

He added that all the three tenders were completely prepared, with a total cost variation of only 10 per cent between them.

Declassified documents obtained by THISDASY revealed that while Guffanti Nigeria Limited bided for the contract for sum of N2, 336,062 with a completion period of 12 months, Julius Berger Nigeria limited bided for N2, 471,306 with a completion period of 10 months, and Sterling Astaldi Limited bided for a contract sum of N2, 584,943 with a completion period of 12 months.

The Commissioner for Works, thus, stated in the memo, “It can be seen that the choice for the contract award lies between Guffanti and Julius Berger. It is, however, considered that the saving of the months by the latter does not justify the additional cost of N135, 244 which would be involved if the contract were to be awarded to that company.

“The federal tenders board recently considered the three tenders and recommended that the combined contracts 1264 A and B for the construction of the Apapa Road Truck Terminal be awarded to Guffenti (Nigeria) Limited in the total contract sum of N2,336,062 with a completion time of 12 months. Attached Annex 1 is the report on the tenders.”

Okunu further stated that a joint committee of his ministry, the Federal Ministry of Transport, NPA, the Federal Ministry of Finance, the Lagos City Council, and the Lagos State Ministry of Works and Planning had discussed the question of the administration of the terminal after its completion, “And recommended that the NPA should be responsible for the day-to-day running of the terminal while a Management Committee comprising the above-mentioned agencies and the Nigeria Police should be responsible for policy matters.

“The joint committee also suggested that the terminal should be self-financing, that is, that the management committee should be empowered to impose user charges. Any profits accruing from the running of the terminal should vest in the FMG and be paid into a designated sub-head with the ultimate aim of recovering the cost of the investment over a period of time, say, fifteen years.”