The minister of works and housing, Babatunde Fashola, says it is time for some cargoes coming into Nigeria to be diverted to other ports than Apapa and Tin Can ports, hoping that diverting these cargoes will not only help to decongest the ports, but also control traffic in the premier port city.
The minister, who spoke while on an inspection tour of the reconstruction work on the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, noted that the Apapa port which was built in 1975 was no longer capable of handling the volume of imports and activities.
“This port was built in 1975-1976; so we can all agree that we have outgrown this port. The port is gone. Can we divert some cargoes to other ports in Nigeria, because we have the Warri Port and Calabar Port.
“When you check the movement of these cargoes, I doubt if 50 percent of them stay in Lagos. So, why don’t we ship straight to where the cargo is going and get some relief,” the minister queried.
Speaking about the traffic congestion around Tin Can Port, the minister urged self law-enforcement among individuals, noting that the road has been fixed but only required compliance to the law to help ease traffic along that axis.
Satisfied with the progress of work on the expressway, the minister noted that the Tax Credit policy of the Federal Government has improved infrastructure development in Apapa.
He explained that the policy seeks to encourage private sector intervention in the reconstruction of road infrastructure projects in Nigeria, where the private sector participants provide the funds for the projects in exchange for their tax.
“The participants are entitled to recoup the funds provided as a credit against the Companies Income Tax to be paid,” the minister said during an inspection tour of the Apapa-Oshodi-Ojota-Oworonshoki Expressway being reconstructed by the Dangote Group under the tax credit scheme.
“You will recall how, through the tax credit policy, the Dangote Group applied to undertake this construction. Let me state that it was the policy of the government that made it possible for them to embark on it and also because it is impacting their business,” Fashola said.
However, he explained that beautification was included in the Apapa-Oshodi-Ojota-Oworonshoki Expressway project to provide aesthetics and protection for the road, bridges and the environment.
Fashola disclosed that the major concern of the beautification was to provide a tool that serves as a disincentive to unauthorized trading under the bridge, with a long term goal targeted at protecting the bridge.
“What you saw under the bridge is a garden; over the years, Apapa has taken a new unacceptable look. People trading, living under the bridge, explosion in workshops, and all of these we have replaced and refurbished. The garden is an attempt to occupy the place in a way that does not allow unauthorized trading,” he explained.
Meanwhile, during the inspection of the garden under the Liverpool Bridge in Apapa, where the tour commenced, Olukayode Popoola, the Federal Controller of Works in Lagos, briefed the minister on the progress of work on the recreation and relaxation facility.
He explained how the design accommodated concrete stalls for a fish market where people come straight from the jetty and make sales.