The consensus on the Lagos governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, is that he has done a fine job since coming into office in May 2015. One issue that has however defied his best intentions is the perennial traffic gridlock in the Apapa axis of Lagos where Nigeria’s most important port is located.
Ambode has organised a stakeholders summit over the gridlock; made several on site visits; ordered that portions of the bad roads be fixed despite it being a federal government owned road; held meetings with owners of tank farms located in Apapa; made appeals to the FG to mobilise the contractors handling the roads in the area to get back to work and to revisit the Tin Can Bridge abandoned for over six years. Ambode has also talked about plans to facilitate the direct pumping of petroleum products from Atlas Cove in Apapa to Mosimi so that tankers will no longer have to come to Lagos to lift products.
So far his efforts have not borne fruits.
Now, Hadiza Bala Usman, who was recently appointed as the managing director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has decided to contribute towards finding a solution. On Friday, Bala-Usman will unveil a plan to free the Apapa-Oshodi expressway of the recurring gridlock so that operations at the Apapa seaports can be improved and revenue increased for the federal government.
Bala-Usman’s plan will be revealed at a stakeholders summit on Friday which is expected to have officials from the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, terminal operators and other critical stakeholders at the Apapa ports in attendance.
“I think we need to do holistic traffic congestion management in this location and work closely with the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing in addressing this issue,” she said. “It is one of our priority areas, we will assess our port development levy and ensure that there is decongestion around this area.”
“We believe that beyond repairing the road, there is much more to be done jointly with the relevant ministries,” she said. “We have holding bays and trailer garages for the trailer drivers to park and hold pending when they are called upon to come and pick up their cargo.”
She however did not give a time frame for when the implementation of her plan will begin, saying that it depends on when other stakeholders and critical participants are able to deploy the needed resources required, “because this is an assignment that is beyond the NPA”.
“We need to link up the Ministry of Works and the Lagos State Government to ensure compliance,” she said.
She said that holding bays should not be within the ports but outside so that the NPA can regulate traffic going into the ports complex.
“There are locations that are owned by the NPA that can be used to provide such services at a commercial rate where users can pay a limited amount to keep their trucks, pending when they are called upon to come and collect their cargo,” she said.