Institute tasks FG on Apapa traffic gridlock
THE perennial traffic gridlock is a major threat to the economic growth of Lagos Seaports, the Nigerian Institute of Shipping (NIS) has said.
President of the Institute, Patrick Egesi, who spoke at the weekend in Lagos, predicted that except something urgent was done by the Federal Government, the Seaports in the near future might loose their viable status to ports of neighbouring countries.
According to Egesi, some landlocked countries may settle for more accessible ports like Tema port of Ghana and Cotonou port in Benin Republic.
The former Director General, Nigerian Maritime Authority (NMA) who spoke at the 7th yearly general meeting, Induction and Award Night put together by the NIS in Lagos reiterated that the traffic gridlock along the ports’ access roads poses serious danger to the economy.
He also called on the Federal Government to concentrate, develop and dredge the Calabar port in Cross Rivers State, for it to be viable.
Egesi said development of the port in Calabar will further ease traffic in Lagos ports, adding that traffic gridlock has made land-locked nations to prefer to do business with the Ghana port instead of Lagos ports.
The NIS President pointed out that if the Calabar port were fully operational, it would boost the nation’s economy because according to him, there will be massive job opportunities and it will reduce traffic on the Lagos ports.
He said: “Our knowledge during Tema port visit came handy during our participation at the international conference on facilitation of transit trade for greater economic integration of land locked countries, organised by the Federal Ministry of transport in conjunction with its parastatals and the government of Niger Republic where it was clearly revealed that Niger and most other landlocked neighbouring West African countries prefer the use of Tema to Nigerian ports.”
Explaining further, Egesi said: “Government consider Calabar port in particular because when that port is opened, you will be surprised about the benefit that port will bring to the nation
“Apart from the fact that it will create jobs for a lot of people, it is going to help the country internally to reduce congestion on Lagos ports roads”
“This traffic congestion caused us billions of dollars and we are not bothered because of the oil, maybe without oil we maybe a little bit careful to open up our ports”
He further noted that apart from Niger and other land locked countries in the region; most West African countries prefer other smaller port to Nigeria simply because of the menace of traffic.
“They prefer such ports because of the congestion in our ports and that is the reason for the government to ensure that the Calabar port needs to bounce back”, the former NMA boss added.
Worried by the recurring and perennial traffic gridlock, the Senate, recently urged the Federal Government to, as a matter of urgency, commence the reactivation of rail lines at Apapa ports for evacuation of petroleum products.
It also advised the Lagos State government to collaborate with Federal Government agencies to end the present gridlock.
According to the Senate, there is need for the Federal Government to consider long-term plans and expansion of the Apapa-Ijora-Iganmu-Orile-Mile 2 access trunks as well as the Apapa Tin Can-Mile 2 -Oshodi corridor, pointing out that government should address the problem in the interest of the country and the larger economy.