Terminal operators and customs agents have called on the federal government to intensify efforts at addressing the Apapa gridlock to protect investments and attract new ones.
After a brief respite that accompanied the rehabilitation and reopening of the Kilometre 2 Apapa-Wharf Road and the Ijora link bridge in December 2018, road users have had to cope with the unending gridlock on the port access roads.
Speaking at the launch of €20 million (N8.2 billion) equipment at the Tincan Island Port in Lagos yesterday, Group Managing Director, Sifax Group, Adekunle Abdulrasaq Oyinloye, said terminal operators were willing to partner the federal government to resolve the situation.
According to him, “We are hoping that very soon the obstruction coursed by the Apapa gridlock will be minimise so that efficiency can come to play. You can see by what we have demonstrated here today that our turnaround at the port can only improve. But there is nothing we can do if the road does not get better. We are pleading with the federal government that in whatever ways we can work together to make sure that access roads to the port is improved as soon as possible.”
On the amount invested in the equipment, he said, “This investment is huge; particularly the timing is also very significant. We are excited because in the last two years, shipping companies have begun to bring bigger vessels with longer rows. So most of our older equipment are not able to deal with those vessels. With this additional equipment, we are able to deal with any size and any shape of vessels, which is very important.
“Increasingly, the ease of doing business, the turnaround time of vessels and the cargo dwelling time would improve, that is why we are not only buying cranes, but we also bought handling equipment like reach stackers and terminal tractors. For us in port and cargo, we want to be ahead and we are happy excited that we made the statement today.
“So far, we have committed €20 million and we are not stopping that is why we are not been able to say how much is this because there is more to come because this is just the first set we are commissioning today; that is we don’t give figure because by the time you come here maybe in March, we could probably have doubled that amount. What is in important is that we will ensure that our leadership position and our customers have a better experience when our cargo passes through port and cargo. ”
Also speaking at the event, the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), Mr Lucky Amiwero, said Nigeria was losing business to West African countries due to the gridlock.
He called on the federal government to take the issue of Apapa gridlock more seriously as the nation’s has a lot at stake if the issue remains unresolved.