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Haulage spikes 500% in Tin-Can as construction hinders container evacuation

Eight weeks after the yuletide rush, it costs five times more to transport containerised goods from Tin-Can Island Port in Lagos, Nigeria’s second largest seaport in terms of cargo volume, due to the snail pace of ongoing construction works on the Tin-Can Island axis of Oshodi-Apapa Expressway.

This makes truck movement very difficult and cargo owners are bearing the brunt, which will in turn be passed to consumers. While cargo owners on the other side in Apapa pay between N450,000 and N600,000 to move 40-foot containers to warehouses in Lagos, the cost is doubled or tripled to move similar consignments from Tin-Can Port.

Cargo owners pay as much as N1.4 to N1.5 million to move a 40-foot container from Tin-Can Port to any warehouse in Lagos while they charge between N700,000 to N800,000 to move 20-foot container depending on the location of the warehouse in Lagos.

Before the chaos in Tin-Can Port, transporters were collecting between N300,000 to N400,000 to lift 40-foot containers to warehouses in Lagos while 20-foot containers were lifted for N200,000 and N250,000 depending on the location in Lagos. At that time, the transportation cost in Apapa was also within same range and while it has also increased, not at the same rate as that of Tin-Can.

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The situation has been blamed on the ongoing construction works on Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, which according to Babatunde Fashola, minister of Works and Housing, was supposed to have been completed by the end of 2020, but unfortunately, is currently being done at a rather slow pace.

The work, which is presently at the Coconut to Apapa bound lane of the road has dragged on for several months and Hitech Construction Company, contractor in charge of the repairs, has failed to open up alternative routes for movement of haulage trucks in and out of Tin-Can port.

Also, Liverpool Bridge that used to be for exit now serves for both exit and entry into the port, creating serious confusion as trucks loaded with 30 to 60 tons of cargo are now static on the bridge.

“Tin-Can Port has become the devil’s den in every aspect of operations, and there is almost 80 percent difference in port operation in Apapa compared to Tin-Can Port,” said Tony Anakebe, managing director of Gold-Link Investment Ltd, a clearing and forwarding firm in Lagos.

According to him, consignees and their agents are finding it difficult to work in Tin-Can Port such that trucks presently do not go in or come out easily from Tin-Can port due to the ongoing road construction in that area.

He said the construction has completely disorganised movement of trucks as well as cargo evacuation from Tin-Can Port, and security operatives are riding on the abnormal situation to squeeze money out of cargo owners and their agents.

It was discovered that security operatives including soldiers and police officers mount road blocks at the Liverpool Junction of the Tin-Can Bridge and very close to the popular Abuja truck park, where civilians were deployed to collect money from truckers before getting access into the port. Agents and truckers pay as much as N70,000 per trip to gain access into the terminals at Tin-Can Port.

Segun Oduntan, immediate past chairman of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Agents (ANLCA) Tin-Can Chapter, also blamed the chaotic traffic situation at Tin-Can on the ongoing construction, which makes cargo evacuation near impossible.

According to him, the failure of the construction company to create alternative routes for trucks and other motorists to have access into the port, has almost crippled port operations.

Emma Nwabunwanne, a Lagos based importer, who blamed the congestion in port terminals at Tin-Can on poor rate of cargo evacuation, said the situation is seriously affecting cargo examination.

“If an importer or his agent books for cargo examination today, the terminal operators will drop the container at the examination bay in one week’s time because released containers are not moved out of the terminals as they should,” he said.

He however called on the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to mandate terminal operators at Tin-Can to begin creating alternative solutions to the congestion in their terminals in order to abate the delays so that importers can pick their containers on time.

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