…Agents threaten strike
BY UCHE USIM
The protracted traffic gridlock on Apapa ports roads, which worsened a fortnight ago continues to take a toll on the Federal Government and relevant stakeholders with daily revenue loss hitting N5 billion.
The gridlock hampers free movement of goods and humans with tanker drivers converting major access roads into Apapa ports to parking lots.
Consequently, containers, which ought to have been cleared and evacuated from the ports still litter various terminals accumulating demurrage.
Vessels are also stranded on the high seas as there is no room at the terminals to berth and discharge their cargoes.
The messy situation has led to frightening revenue losses as charges, which ought to have been collected by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and other government agencies, terminal operators, among others, drastically reduced.
Spokesman of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Agents (ANLCA), Dr. Kayode Farinto, while speaking on the comatose state of the ports yesterday at a media briefing said the agents have given the Federal Government a 30-day ultimatum to address the situation or risk the ports being shut down in protest.
According to him, the N5 billion daily loss is only a conservative estimate, pointing out that a lot of businesses located in Apapa have folded up since workers can no longer access their premises.
“Since this traffic mess started, over 300 people have died in various road accidents. It’s either a container fell off the truck and crushed occupants of smaller vehicles or it is a commercial motorcyclist running into the trucks. A lot of people have lost their lives. Commercial bus drivers now drive against traffic as their main lanes have been taken over by tankers and container trucks. Just imagine there is fire outbreak, at least one million Lagosians will die. People living in Apapa and working elsewhere can no longer access their homes. People are robbed daily in the traffic. Is that how a port city is run? This matter has got out of hand and needs urgent attention and it is totally unacceptable,” he said.
Farinto said both the Obasanjo the incumbent administrations have failed woefully to address the perennial traffic challenge in Apapa. He thus urged the incoming regime of General Muhammadu Buhari to find lasting solution to the problem.
“We want Buhari, as soon as he’s sworn-in, to work with the Navy, the Lagos State government, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and other relevant stakeholders to establish a formidable task force to address the issue. Nigerians don’t like dialogue. At times it is when you use the horsewhip that people fall in line. This problem started in the Obasanjo administration where approvals were recklessly made for the building of tank farms around the seaport. It is never done.
“This greedy, singular and callous act of executive recklessness has brought economic loss in terms of manpower and loss of valuables to both the rich and the poor. And this incumbent administration has done nothing to relocate them. But during the electioneering campaign of Buhari/Osinbajo, they promised to relocate the tank farms to Lekki axis. We hold them by their words,” he said.
Source : SunOnline