Apapa gridlock: Amaechi’s visit has not brought respite, importers lament

•Say 50,000 containers trapped at ports

Stories by Tola Adenubi | Lagos

 

THERE is no end in sight to the perennial gridlock on the access road leading to the Tin Can Island Port, Lagos as no fewer than 50,000 containers laden with raw materials belonging to manufacturing companies and traders are currently trapped at the port. This is even as importers and agents have lamented that the recent visit of the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi to the ports access road has not changed anything.

The Managing Director of an international beverage company told journalists that his company had run out of the substrate used in manufacturing one of its soft drinks

“We exhausted our stock and the container loads we imported arrived more than six weeks ago but have not been able to leave the port,” the Managing Director, who does not want to be identified, said at a closed-door meeting with select journalists in Lagos, recently.

The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi had last week inspected the Tin Can Island Port access road in company of the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation (FMOT), Magdalene Ajani; Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority, Hadiza Bala Usman and the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers Council, Hassan Bello in an effort to find solution to the gridlock, which has crippled cargo delivery at the nation’s second busiest seaport.

Also last week, the FMOT Permanent Secretary, Magdalene Ajani, during a meeting with stakeholders in Lagos, directed Hitech Construction Company, the contractor handling the repair of the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, to reopen the road leading to the port to clear the gridlock. However, Hitech has failed to comply with the order, days after it was issued, while security operatives still mount toll points along the road to extort various sums of money from hapless truckers.

A clearing agent who operates at the Tin Can Island Port, Julius Nwachukwu, said despite the disbandment of the Presidential Task Team, the traffic situation still persists due to road blocks mounted by security and traffic management officials as well as the failure of the government to open up the completed portion of the road as promised by the FMOT Permanent Secretary last Friday.

This, he said, has continued to hinder free movement and exit of cargoes from the port with Police officials and other security operatives still cashing in on the blockade created by the contractor especially at night.

Also speaking, Chairman, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Tin Can Island Chapter, Segun Oduntan, said there hadn’t been any respite on the road despite the Minister’s visit to the Tin Can Island Port last week.

He lamented the pain and frustration agents and importers are going through, especially those who have their goods trapped at the port as a result of the chaotic gridlock along the Tin Can Port corridor.

“You need to see how importers and agents are crying, especially those who have goods that are trapped at the port with the high cost of demurrage. So what intervention has the minister made?

“The Minister’s visit has not changed anything because when they came for the inspection, they did not inform any stakeholder. We are the ones that can give the Minister first hand information. How can a contractor be bigger than the Ministry? They should just open the road,” he said.

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