• Saturday, April 13, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Apapa-Wharf road threatens N2.6trn Customs revenue

Apapa: Trailer Park

Apapa-Wharf Road, the major access into Apapa, the country’s premier and busiest seaport, has deteriorated and is fraught with terrible potholes, causing businesses, port users and haulage operators losses on a daily basis.

The terrible state of the Apapa-Wharf Road is worsened by the fact that the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, meant to be an alternative access in and out of Apapa and Tin-Can Island Ports, has been taken over by tankers that lift oil and gas products from the tank farms located along the Mile 2-Coconut axis.

The deplorable condition of the port road threatens the potential revenue of Nigeria Customs Service, which generated N2.6 trillion last year. This is aside from the hundreds of billions of naira collected by the Nigerian Ports Authority, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency and others.

When BusinessDay visited the port city, it was discovered that exiting the port through Ijora heading to Western Avenue was very difficult because trucks with fully loaded containers were falling on the potholes and gullies that cover the greater portion of the Ijora area of the road.

Besides the Iganmu-Ijora aspect of the Apapa-Wharf Road, some portions of the popular Leventis bus stop of the Area ‘B’ Barracks axis of the road are also very bad, especially the service lane that leads to under the Marine Beach Bridge, filled with ditches and portholes on both inbound and outbound lanes.

Also, the major lane of the outbound Apapa-Wharf Road has now developed a pothole that is creating bottlenecks to cargo evacuation from the port.

Giving insight into the situation of the road, Tony Anakebe, a Lagos-based Customs-licensed agent, said the inbound and outbound lanes of the Iganmu-Ijora area of the Apapa-What Road are in bad condition.

He told BusinessDay that it has become extremely difficult for trucks bringing empty containers to access the port and those taking laden containers to exit due to the poor state of the road.

Citing an example, he said two fully loaded 20-foot containers fell on Tuesday at the bad spot, creating traffic congestion for several days for motorists exiting the port city.

Anakebe said: “Importers are recording huge losses on a daily basis due to the current state of port access roads. When these containers upturn on the road, it takes the importer an additional cost to rent another truck, containers, and labour to transfer the load on the spot.

Read also; Apapa-Wharf Road reconstruction: Dangote assures of early completion

“This takes days and delays timely delivery of the container to the importer’s warehouse and the process compels the cargo owner to pay extra days of demurrage to the shipping companies. In some cases, the containers are vandalised by hoodlums even before the owner can get it out of the way.”

He pointed out that companies and individuals have been helping to carry out palliative work that is enabling the movement of trucks in recent times.

On his part, Bala Mohammed, a trucker told our correspondent that the deplorable condition of the inbound and outbound lanes of the Iganmu-Ijora axis of the Apapa-Wharf Road has caused serious challenges to port business and affecting cargo haulage from the port.

He expressed sadness that the major access to the nation’s economic gateway, which is vital to the trillions of revenues generated annually by government agencies in the port, was left in a bad condition.

“The state of the road is causing serious financial losses to truckers and importers because billions of naira worth of goods is destroyed when the container falls either going into or leaving the port while truckers get their trucks damaged in some instances,” Mohammed said.

He said the potholes on the road not only cause major traffic congestion that hold motorists for hours, especially after close of business but also create opportunity for hoodlums, criminals and traffic robbers to forcefully rob passengers of their belongings on their way home.

While imploring the government to pay attention to the condition of the Apapa-Wharf Road, Mohammed said the government must declare a state of emergency on the condition of the Apapa-Wharf Road.

Citing an example, Mohammed said that an export container carrying Soya Bean fell before the SIFAX Container Terminal at Ijora on Wednesday after descending the Iganmu-Ijora Bridge and almost all the content of the container covered the road.

“We need a long-term solution to the problem of port access roads. The road is an essential part of every economy including Nigeria because without good roads, export and import cargo cannot come nor exit the port to the importer’s warehouse,” he said.

He confirmed that individuals and companies have been doing palliative repairs on the bad portions of the road, but such are temporary solutions that keep felling at intervals.

Vicky Haastrup, a terminal operator, told newsmen that despite the significant progress recorded inside the port by the concessionaire, the surrounding infrastructure such as dilapidated port access roads does not complement the efforts put into rebuilding port terminals.

She said the condition of the road leading to the ports needs urgent attention.

Bidemi Sule, a staff member of a shipping agency, said it has become a nightmare to go to work daily as motorists spend hours due to the traffic congestion along the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway.

He said he was trapped for hours on the road due to the congestion from the Mile 2-Coconut axis of the road, which is why motorists are forced to take one-way along that route.