BusinessDay

Gaping Apapa potholes hurt businesses despite N2.3tn Customs revenue

...Bad roads worsen gridlock, pose risks to motorists

Despite helping the Nigeria Customs Service to generate N2.3 trillion in revenue last year, the only access road to Nigeria’s major economic gateway, Apapa and Tin-Can Island Ports, has been left to be riddled with gaping potholes.

The ports in Lagos, namely Apapa, Tin-Can, and PTML, generated over N1.588 trillion last year in Customs revenue, according to official figures.

Port users lamented that despite the huge revenue, the government failed to repair the potholes on Ijora-Wharf Road and others.

Businesses that depend on the ports for critical production inputs are currently counting losses to man-hours spent on evacuating goods from ports and damages to goods in transit.

When BusinessDay visited the road, it was discovered that motorists, businesses, and residents of Apapa usually get trapped at the potholes on the road immediately after descending from Ijora-Seven-up Bridge.

The potholes have since over a year made the expressway to Western Avenue axis of the road exactly under the Iganmu Bridge impassable, forcing motorists to make use of the service lane, which has also become a danger zone, with hoodlums attacking commuters during traffic peak periods.

The road, port users say, ought to be the only exit from Apapa and Tin-Can Island Ports, following the protracted construction work on Apapa-Oshodi Expressway.

Adeyemi Adeola, a trucker, told BusinessDay that the state of the road is taking a toll on haulage business at the nation’s seaports, adding that it affects mostly bulk cargo and damages the goods when a truck falls at the bad spots.

“This is why we see trucks carrying bulk goods like plywood upturning on the road when they forcefully enter the holes. The development has become difficult for truckers, particularly now that the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway has remained out of use due to the construction,” he said on the phone.

According to him, truckers are now going through hell to move goods from Apapa and Tin-Can such that truckers that want to access Tin-Can from Mile 2 now have to go as far as Alakija to turn because of the construction.

While appealing to the government to come to the aid of port users and truckers by repairing the roads and making them motorable, Adeola said truckers are struggling to do business in both Apapa and Tin-Can Ports owing to bad roads.

Tony Anakebe, managing director of Gold-Link Investment Ltd, a Lagos-based clearing and forwarding company, said that trucks and containers had been falling at Ijora because of the bad portions of the road.

Citing an example, he said that on Tuesday, a container fell at Area B, which resulted in heavy traffic gridlock in Apapa that disrupted cargo evacuation and delivery to importers’ warehouses.

“The situation of the road is affecting business and cargo evacuation from the port. It is sad that Nigeria’s busiest seaport does not have an access road and both the state and federal governments have overlooked those bad portions of the Ijora-Wharf road despite the trillions generated by Customs annually from both ports,” Anakebe said on the phone.

According to him, to enter Apapa has become easier probably due to the use of the electronic call-up system, but to exit Apapa with one’s goods has become a hard nut to crack.

“To evacuate goods from the port, sometimes the truck stays up to two days at that failed portion of the Ijora road. The only way out of Apapa now is going through Ijora-Olopa to Iddo, which is usually clogged due to rail line construction and market activities,” he added.

Read also: Photos: Gaping potholes undo Apapa decongestion

He said the traffic gridlock resulting from the bad road at Ijora had created opportunities for street boys and miscreants to break people’s vehicles to demand money or rob them of their belongings.

Segun Demola, a staff of one of the terminals in Apapa Port, said that leaving Apapa at night on a daily basis had become a huge challenge for him and his colleagues.

He recalled how his colleague’s car was vandalised and robbed by street robbers at that bad portion of Ijora Road last week.

“I am always afraid whenever I approach Ijora and there is traffic gridlock,” he said.

Chika Amaechi, a clearing agent, said that his principal (importer) was forced to pay over N500,000 as demurrage on a container to a shipping company recently after suffering a serious delay when a cleared container fell at Ijora on the bad road.

He said the road condition had worsened due to the rain and flood that covered the potholes on that road.

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