Following the trauma and nightmare slowing the daily movement of motorists, residents and commuters in and out of Apapa port city due to persistent traffic gridlock caused by inefficient transport system, property values in one of the Nigeria’s prime area, Apapa has headed to the dust.
BusinessDay understands that it is estimated that 40 percent of the entire buildings in the Apapa GRA are presently empty. On the average, 10 houses are empty on any given street.
Alarmingly, property value in Apapa has come down to a point where a buyer can easily get 2,500 square metres of land for as ‘low’ as N150 million when same size of land in Ikeja GRA goes for between N300 million and N400 million. House rents have also dropped significantly from N5 million per annum two years ago to between N3 million N2.5 million per annum.
“Today, property values have collapsed in Apapa because it has become a nightmare to come to Apapa. It is tragic that we have one of the nation’s prime property areas in near collapse because we have not come up with ideas to address the Apapa problem, Pat Utomi, founder, Center for Values in Leadership, said in Lagos on Tuesday.
Speaking at the investiture of Bashir Yusuf Jamoh, the newly elected president of the Chartered Institute of Transport Administration of Nigeria (CIoTA), Utomi said that places and cities like Apapa have fallen from grace to dust because the economic managers allowed the nation’s transport infrastructure like railway to decay.
Utomi, who noted that Nigeria’s economy has underperformed due to the inability to develop an effective transport system and lack of sustainable intermodal transport infrastructure, said that distribution of petroleum products has become the bane of the problem of Nigeria.
“Tank farms existence in Apapa is part of the reasons people cannot enter Apapa. We have destroyed the roads in Nigeria with the distribution of petroleum using tankers running from Lagos to other parts of the country. In the 60s, petroleum products were moved by rail to tank farms but today we have allowed our rail system to decay that we are now celebrating Lagos-Ibadan rail line,” Utomi said.
Utomi cited example with the days of Cement Amada in the 70s, when government got involved in many infrastructural projects that involved bringing in a lot of cement into the country for construction purposes; this created congestion in the ports such that vessels waited on the sea for over nine months.
“The situation became scandalous that companies devised means where helicopters were used to lift cement from the port to their factories and bonded warehouses. If we could do those kinds of things in the 70s, surely, we can devise other technologies to handle the Apapa situation, which is currently crippling the economy of Lagos,” Utomi stated.
According to him, there are several port facilities that can be reactivated in the country to reduce the pressure in Apapa. “We have the deep ocean terminal in Onne, which is one of the best port facilities in the country and we can move containers by rail to the Inland Container Depots (ICDs) at the hinterland to decongest Apapa,” he suggested.
On the effective management of traffic during the last week rally of All Progressive Congress (APC) in Lagos, Utomi said that if the truck owners could move their trucks for a mere political rally to take place, that authorities could have leverage on the opportunity to order them to go back to wherever they packed during the rally days, and only come to the port using call-up system.
“Part of our problem is lack of institutional memory and we do not have structural knowledge management because during the days of Ojo Maduekwe as the transport minister, a study was conducted by Julius Berger on intermodal transport, which was not implemented.
Responding in his welcome speech, Bashir Yusuf Jamoh, national president of CIoTA assured stakeholders that the Institute in the short-term will train National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members to join other security operatives in the management of traffic in Apapa.
Jamoh said that in the long-term, the Institute plans to present a position paper on the effective ways of using inter-modal transportation system in the movement of cargo especially the use of rail way in cargo movement from the port to hinterland.
Adebayo Sarumi, former managing director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), who stated that it took him over two hours to commute from Ikoyi to Apapa, said that it was beautiful in 80s and 90s to live and work in Apapa, which today has become a nightmare.