Operators bemoan traffic gridlock on Lagos ports’ access roads

Operators in the maritime industry have expressed concern about the perennial traffic gridlock along the port access roads in Apapa and Tin- Can Island.

The operators, who spoke in separate interviews with on Monday, said the location of tank farms, lack of truck holding bays and commercialisation of the port environment were causes of the gridlock.
Chief Remi Ogungbemi, the Chairman, Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO) said the truck drivers operated under very unfriendly environment because there were no holding bays close to the ports.
According to him, the truck drivers have to queue up on the roads before they go into the ports.
He said that spaces used by the truck drivers within the port environment some years ago, had been taken over by other businesses.
``Years ago, there were spaces close to the ports where truck drivers could park but all these are gone and taken over by different businesses that have no reason being around the ports,’’ Ogungbemi said.
He said the trucks often broke down on the roads because the owners could not afford to maintain them regularly due to multiple taxation and levies.
``Truck maintenance has been greatly challenged by the multiple levies paid by truck owners to different government agencies.
``After such payments, the truck owners have very little money left to care for themselves and maintain their trucks.
``The truck owners and the drivers are going through a tough time and the public should know this, ‘’ Ogungbemi said.
Mr Uchu Block, the Vice- Chairman, National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), said the location of the tank farms in Apapa was responsible for the gridlock.
``Nobody has talked about the tank farms which are located within this area. That is the major cause of this gridlock.
``You can imagine when the tankers queue up to go to different tank farms, it automatically means total blockade for days to come,’’ Block said.
Chief Kunle Folarin, Chairman of the Ports Consultative Council (PCC), said that the traffic gridlock resulted from location of other businesses in the ports.
Folarin urged the Federal Government to look into the increase in cargo traffic without a corresponding expansion of the port areas.
``The immediate port environment was encroached by some industries.
``In effect, the ports were not given a chance to grow beyond what they were in the beginning,’’ Folarin said.
Mr John Aluya, Chairman, Corporate Affairs and Strategic Committee, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) said the traffic gridlock had caused 25 per cent increase in the cost of production.
He blamed the truck drivers for carrying out repairs of their trucks on the roads and using same roads as their parking lot.
Aluya, however, said the establishment of a truck call-up system was necessary to address the issue.
He said that the roads must be repaired with the assistance of the port concessionaires so that the truck drivers would work in an ideal environment.
``We need to look at the challenges critically because in other parts of the world, the concessionaires are responsible for repair of the access roads to the ports.
``We need an effective truck call-up system before talking about taking action against those parking on the roads,” Aluya said.
A Shipper, Mr Okorie Obioma, said the traffic situation was as a result of the continuous pressure of the trucks on the roads, which had left the roads in dilapidated condition.
He said the problem could only be solved ``when the rail network in the ports are restored and functional’’.
Obioma also called for the expansion of the port access roads.
A Consultant to AMATO, Chief Chris Orode said the truck terminals at the International Trade Fair Complex along Badagry Expressway needed financing.
He said if investors could partner with AMATO on the project, there would be a dedicated road for the trucks.
A port operator, Mr Daniel Odibe, said the construction of a truck park was necessary to clear the perennial traffic gridlock.
He said that the truck park would make the call-up system effective.
The stakeholders agreed that it was also necessary to have a monitoring team to ensure that ``truckers do not park indiscriminately along the access roads’’.

Businesses within Apapa and Tin-Can Island regularly suffered loss of man-hour due to the traffic gridlock, which leaves the road users stranded for hours.