By Adedayo Akinwale
The House of Representatives has called on the federal government to pay special attention to the construction of port access roads.
It also urged the federal government to dedicate a greater part of two months revenue generated by the four commands of Apapa, Tincan Island, Kirikiri Lighter Terminal and PTML for the construction of all the access roads leading to the ports in order to complete the roads in two months for optimal revenue generation.
The resolution of the House was a sequel to the adoption of a motion on urgent public importance moved by Hon. Leke Abejide at the plenary yesterday.
Moving the motion, Abejide said the House Committee on Customs and Excise embarked on a week-long oversight of Zone A of the Nigeria Customs Service Command to ascertain the level of revenue generation and also to find out their challenges in order to find a way of addressing them using the Customs budget of 2021.
He added that the committee, having gone round the commands under a difficult terrain, discovered that if the problems facing the commands are not tackled, Nigerian ports could collapse soon.
The lawmaker noted that businesses, commuters and residents along these access roads are subjected to nuisance, pollution and emissions to the environment.
According to him, due to the challenges of inaccessibility to ports, it takes an average of 60 days to do a turnaround of a container, whereas should there be easy access to the ports, the turnaround within Lagos should not be more than five days.
He added that the implication is that the country is losing an average of five times the revenue it should have made if the access roads were good.
The lawmaker said despite the challenges, the Nigerian Customs Service in four commands within the port, viz: the Apapa, Tincan lsIand, PTML and Kirikiri Lighter Terminal, generate an average of N100 billion in one month.
He explained that the revenue could rise to N500 billion monthly if the access roads to the ports were to be in order.
Abejide expressed concern that in addition to the poor condition of the port access roads, extortion by officials of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), security department, police and the Presidential Task Force remain the major cause of unending gridlock along the port access roads.
He said stakeholders such as importers, clearing agents and truck owners alleged that they are forced to pay as much as N250,000 to N280,000 per truck for entries and exits to the ports.
He called for measures to stop the alleged extortion and the scrapping of the presidential task force for outliving its usefulness.
After considering the motion, the House urged the federal government to pay special attention to the construction of access road leading to the ports in Lagos.
It also urged shipping lines to “forthwith gate-in exports and empty containers by sea to the ports through the waterways by barges directly to the vessels or the terminals where the vessels should pick them.”