Following exclamation by the contractor handling the Federal Government standard gauge rail project, China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), that only 200 meters of excavation works have been carried out inside the Apapa port, terminal operators whose facilities have been earmarked for demolition have stated that the port is not yet ready for the demolition of structures sitting on the right of way of the standard gauge rail. This is even as the operators explained that if hurriedly demolished, Nigeria may witness a collapse of its port operations.
Speaking to the Nigerian Tribune exclusively, Managing Director of the Apapa Bulk Terminal Limited (ABTL), Captain Marvin Abe, stated that it is very important for the rail project contractor to plan its project with an overall objective to minimise its impact on the economy, vis-à-vis port operation.
According to Abe, “as you know, standard gauge rail is a ‘force fit’ project as it had not been considered pre-concession.
“To those outside the port, it may sound easy for them to suggest demolition of port structures without considering how the port will continue to operate after demolition and during the construction phases.
“However, measures are being quickly put in place to ensure a smooth transition and to avoid creating another problem on top of the lingering impacts of Apapa gridlock. Before demolition will commence, we have to adequately manage the pressures being exerted on Apapa port to ensure the realisation of the Federal Government reform objectives.
“Once the measures mentioned above are complete –port staff and equipment relocation etc, then the port structures will be ready for demolition. There are however lots of areas that CCECC can work unhindered.
“They have to plan their project with an overall objective to minimise its impact on the economy. Wherever they may have failed to do that, we should show concern and that is what we have been doing.”
Also speaking to the Nigerian Tribune, a staff of another affected terminal operator who begged not to have his name in print stated that hurried demolition of port structures may affect port operations.
In his words; “Hope you know that those port structures earmarked for demolition have roles that they play in the entire cargo clearance chain. So, we have to be careful with this demolition issue so as not to derail port operations. If care is not taken, and we allow it to affect port operation, it will affect the economy because the ports play a major role in Nigeria’s economy.
“Yes, government needs to connect the Apapa port to the standard gauge rail, but now the ports are congested and many of those structures earmarked for demolition are part of the overstretched port system. So, we need to take it slowly, and not in a hurry because there is a deadline for the rail project completion.”