We need a container freight station, says NPCC Chairman

Otunba Kunle Folarin,

A large- enough truck holding facility with effective management, is a vital point to start with in efforts to tackling the traffic gridlock problem facing Apapa, Otunba Kunle Folarin, Chairman of the Nigerian Port Consultative Council (NPCC) has said.  
Folarin said in an interview in Lagos on Tuesday, that as much as it required a number of factors to deal with the problem, which in turn affects the cost and time of cargo movement, a dedicated facility to handle the container traffic must be built.

“We need a container freight station that will receive containers to the port and also exit containers from the port. Until we have a dedicated container traffic infrastructure capable of handling the rapid flow of the traffic, there would still be challenges.
“That is why the side road traffic of trucks with containers has not disappeared, because they are not coming from a dedicated corridor, they are not coming from a freight station, which is pre-planned. They are coming when they are ready, flowing in and out of the port,” Folarin said.
Otunba Folarin, who spoke on the sidelines of the investiture ceremony of the president of the Chartered Institute of Transport Administration in Nigeria,   also called attention to a point explaining how the chaotic traffic situation within the port city impacts negatively on export efforts in Nigeria.
He said: “Then, the consolidation of the export container is still a challenge. When you look at Nigeria and the talk about efforts to grow the non-oil sector, it should translate into growing the port sector. Because, whatever you do by creating produce for export, semi-finished materials for export, iron and steel, you still have to transport them into the port.
“When the port corridor is still congested with trucks having full containers and empty containers, then, what you need to earn the foreign exchange is not going to materialize. In order words, it is important that the country considers the establishment of a dedicated container freight station to deal with the demand.   
“What we have done is to put in place an effective corridor that can hold on to the pressure from the port. But then, the challenges that we have is multi-dimensional. 

"How do we deal with the feedback from the transport system; the container, the empty container traffic is still a big challenge, the holding bays are not operational yet, the truck terminal are not operational yet and the shipping companies have not fully put up infrastructure to deal with that problem.”
He, however, noted that a factor of increased trade by Nigeria with the Far East, which had lately experience growth, may give some answers for increased need for trucks operating in and out of the port. He also added that there should have been a direction of what to expect through forecast.
He said: “The Nigerian Maritime Industry is part of the global maritime industry, and what affects any part of the global industry affects Nigeria. We have seen that there had been a kind of element of growth in the Far East part of the world for which Nigeria is a trading partner.
“Nigeria, therefore, is faced with the issue of providing the facility and matching the infrastructure necessary to receive the growth. And there had been a challenge since the beginning of the year that there was a kind of buildup of a slight congestion, but it has since been tackled. But the real issue is to ensure that we create an environment which should be able to sustain the pressure of Apapa port.”
In that vein of calling attention to the need for increase capacity in transport infrastructure, Folarin also thinks that efforts should be geared towards creating dedicated port corridors since any road facility would equally serve the municipal corridors.
He emphasized the importance of having an effective integrated multi-modal transport system as key ingredient for global trade, which should be fully incorporate for an enabling business environment.