Despite the Federal Government’s efforts to fix the Apapa and Tin-Can port access roads and address the problem of port congestion may only see the problem disappear for about four or five years but the menace would return worse than the current state, analysts have predicted.
According to them, the Apapa problem will only go away if the Government provides inter-modal transportation for cargo evacuation and rebuild critical transport infrastructure.
Speaking at the maiden quarter business roundtable organised by MMS Plus Newspapers with the theme ‘Economic Outlook: Quarterly Verdict’ with the theme; “Post Election Economy: Exploring Strategies for Growth” Kunle Folarin, chairman of Port Consultative Council (PCC) said the port corridor must be reserved and restricted as an exclusive economic zone.
He said, “Until we install a multi-modal concept and build other infrastructure at the ports, we would continue to have a recurring decimal of congestion at the ports. Within the port environment up to 4km should be only warehouses for cargoes, roads for movement of port cargoes by trucks or railway. There should also be a ring road exclusive for the port.”
“The port is a place that should be exclusive for port operations. However, in Nigeria we have several residential houses surrounding the ports. Some of them are 10 meters from the port, so it is no longer a port corridor. Also, the port is a transit area, a holding bay but not a storage area. It should be an area where ships discharge cargoes and the cargoes should leave the ports just as the ships also leave the ports,” he said.
According to him, the mechanism for port operations is multi-modal. He stressed that the transit nature of the ports explain why demurrage is placed on ships and the containers bringing in cargoes and the containers stored in the ports also pay ground rent.
Folarin disclosed that when the Oshodi-Apapa expressway was constructed, it was perceived that the road would only service Tin-Can Island Port but it has become a municipal transport area and not just for port traffic.
“In a day, one million vehicles transit around Apapa, Oshodi and Ebute-Metta at the peak time. If the nation continues to prosper and the volume of cargo traffic increases, then Nigeria would discover that it is much difficult to manage prosperity than poverty,” he added.
On his part, Kingsley Anaroke, CEO, Kings Communications Limited, said that Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) in the country had been limited by the frequent policy changes and lack of confidence in the government.
“There are several people abroad who have shown interest in investing in Nigeria or finance one project or the other, however, the government policies keep discouraging them. We have made efforts to bring in some Koreans to finance a project but they came in and the problem was the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) model” he said.
Anaroke lamented that ICRC copied the PPP model from foreign countries but have refused to rejig it to suit the peculiarities in Nigeria.
“The government has not fixed the Apapa-Oshodi road because of paucity of funds as it hasn’t been factored in the nation’s budget in the last three years,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ime Udoma, chief executive officer, Quiet Dimensions Limited, advised the Federal Government to strengthen the commercial banks by allowing some public sector funds to be domiciled in such banks.
Udoma, who is an ex-banker, lamented that commercial banks have lost the capacity to disburse long term loans which was necessary to grow the small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and the nation’s economy in general.
“Banks cannot give loans anymore because the bulk of the money they receive is short term deposits. They cannot lend such short term deposits because at any point in time the depositors could demand the money. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) creates money by printing it but commercial banks create money by giving loans. The government would have to return public sector funds to banks so that they could use it to expand the economy” he said.
He said government needs to disburse the money in the agricultural programme, Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) which has reportedly created 2.5 million jobs across the country through cooperatives.