In a bid to address the protracted Apapa gridlock in Lagos State, the Senate has directed its the Committee on Marine Transport to investigate the implementation of the e-call up system and allegations of extortion by port officials and report back on the way forward.
The upper legislative chamber on Tuesday in Abuja also urged the federal government to collaborate with the Lagos State government and other critical stakeholders to evacuate all petrol tankers and heavy duty vehicles along the Apapa Ports access road as well as ensuring that tank farms are relocated to other areas.
Similarly, it advised the Federal Ministry of Works to commence the reconstruction and repairs all access roads to seaports, namely Apapa Creek road, Apapa Oshodi Expressway, and Tincan Island while urging the private terminal operators to explore water transport as an option in the movement of containers.
These formed parts of the resolutions reached by the Senate on a motion, titled: “Urgent need tackle protracted Apapa gridlock in Lagos and embrace the newly introduced electronic call up system of admitting trucks into the terminal” by Senstor Oluremi Tinubu (Lagos Central) and co-sponsored by Senator Solomon Adeola (Lagos West) and Senator Adetokunbo Abiru (Lagos East) during plenary.
Leading debate on the motion raised through Orders 42 and 52 of the Senate Rules on matter of urgent public importance, Senator Tinubu informed that being the country’s most valuable import and export gateway, and a high yielding revenue hub, Apapa port is currently raking in over N1trillion annually into federal government’s treasury through various taxes, levies and tariffs.
She, however, lamented that “the gridlock which has persisted on access roads to Apapa Seaport in Lagos, and has for many years be a source of heartache for individuals and businesses plying the road.”
Açcording to her, “the gridlock has persisted due to the terrible condition of Apapa port, the concentration of tank farms in the area, indiscriminate parking of petroleum tankers and trailers wanting to load petroleum products from the tank farms and the racket created by persons benefiting from the chaotic situation.”
The lawmaker noted that the tank farms attract thousands of trucks and tanker drivers who lift the petroleum products for onward supply to Nigerians who owing to the paucity of parking lots take up all the space on the road instead thereby causing traffic.
Senator Tinubu informed that there about 40 tank farms in the Apapa axis alone, saying that “this over concentration is disadvantageous because one accident could be the undoing of this very important aspect of the federal government highway.”
She decried the poor quality of port access roads, complex ports procedures and ineffective truck call up system among other factors contributing to delays, inefficiencies and gridlock in Apapa with huge cost to Nigeria’s economy.
The lawmaker noted that “this gridlock has increased the cost of doing business, encourage illegalities and stiffen ports activities with its attendant negative impact on government’s revenue projections”, adding that it has continued to pose security threat to the lives of innocent Nigerians as hoodlums exploit the situation to disposes motorists and passers-by of their valuables.
Senator Tinubu further stated that the deplorable state of the roads has led to a number of trucks and containers falling on smaller vehicles, killing innocent citizens while goods worth millions of Naira are also destroyed or stolen in these accidents.
In his contribution, Senator Adeola stressed the need for collaboration between the federal and Lagos State governments to tackle the menace once and for all, adding that the Senate should invite the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi for interrogation on the national embarrassment on the road.
But Senator Nicholas Tofowomo (Ondo South) restated his call for a seaport in Ondo State so as to serve neighbouring states like Ekiti, Osun, Edo and Delta and thereby decongesting the Apapa Seaport in Lagos.
Besides, he said additional seaports would create job opportunities for the teeming populace and further improve the nation’s economy.
The Senate, in other resolutions, also mandated the Committee on Marine Transport as well as those of the Works and Petroleum (Downstream) to meet the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA; concessionaires; Nigeria Union of Petroleum Engineers and all other stakeholders to ensure resolution of pending conflicts and ensure synergy among stakeholders.
It commended the federal government for the reconstruction of Oshodi – Apapa Expressway, and the completion of the Apapa Ports spur line of the Lagos-Ibadan rail.