Sanwo-Olu hinges Apapa gridlock solution on Lekki Port completion
Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the Lagos State governor, has said that the final solution to the dreaded gridlock in Apapa, Nigeria’s premier sea port city, lies in the completion of the Deep Sea port coming up in the Lekki area of the state.
Sanwo-Olu, who spoke at the Africa Business Conference and Investment Expo hosted by BusinessDay Media Limited in Lagos, said there were several measures already in place to address the intractable traffic congestion in the port city.
Besides the call-up system powered by an Eto App technology, which has cleared the gridlock significantly, the governor assured that the government would continue to do all within its power to ensure that Apapa was completely free of gridlock, disclosing that the security agencies in the port city would be changed regularly to ensure that the call-up system was not compromised.
Frank Aigbogun, the publisher of BusinessDay newspaper, had in his brief remarks commended the governor for the work he has been doing, including finding solution to the 12-year traffic congestion in Apapa.
The publisher, whose business is in Apapa, recalled how, before the introduction of the call-up system, it took him about three hours to move from the Island to Apapa. “Mr Governor, I don’t know how often you visit Apapa; but I want to tell you that it now takes between 23 and 27 minutes to go to Apapa from the Island,” he enthused.
Apapa, in its worst days, degenerated into a wasteland with the environment degraded; the economy of the port city estimated then at N20 billion a day dropped considerably as businesses died gradually, residents relocated in droves while landlords lost rental income running into millions of naira yearly.
The port city became a bye-word for gridlock and congestion. It was avoided by motorists as all the routes to the city were overrun by rampaging trucks many of which had no well-define business.
These, perhaps, explained why Aigbogun expressed his anxiety and that of many business leaders watching developments in the Lekki corridor, wondering if the completion of the Dangote Refinery and the Deep Sea Port would not turn out a nightmare and recreate Apapa of yesterday there.
The governor assured that that government was on top of that situation, pointing out several infrastructure schemes that were under way that would ensure investors’ fears were allayed.
Apprehension and anxiety over the likelihood of Lekki becoming another Apapa which, for 12 whole years was a nightmare to motorists, businesses and residents, is not misplaced.
This is because, the Lekki corridor, now known as ‘New Lagos’ is, arguably, the fastest growing settlement in Africa. With its fast developing real estate market, huge construction projects and major developments, this corridor is emerging as new mainstreet of Africa, offering vast investment opportunities.
That corridor is attracting huge individual and institutional investments such as the Lekki Free Trade Zone (LFTZ), the ambitious Dangote Refinery, the Lekki Deep Seaport, chemical and fertilizer plants, among others.
It is estimated that 70 companies cutting across diverse sectors of the economy have signalled interest to do business within the LFTZ with many of them promising billions of dollars investment. There is high concentration of high net-worth individuals and high-end business outfits in Lekki, which makes it a good catchment area for investment purposes.
But concerns remain. Until the infrastructure schemes such as the Lekki Regional Roads and the Fourth Main Bridge come on stream as promised by the governor at the BusinessDay conference, the only access road to Lekki remains the six-lane Lekki-Epe Expressway.
This road is congested with vehicles during rush hours because there are no viable alternatives. And there are increasing fears that things will get worse in that corridor when all the big ticket projects like the Dangote Refinery and Petrochemical complex as well as the Lekki Deep Seaport come on stream.
The Dangote Refinery is a 650,000 barrels per day (bpd) oil facility, described by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo as the largest in the world. “This is the largest industrial undertaking in Nigeria. It is meant to refine 650,000 barrels of oil per day which, by all projections, is the largest in the world,” he said.