15 years after : Port concession echos at MAJAN maritime summit

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  • Apapa traffic gridlock sad outcome of port concession without Impact Assessment – Ray Ugochukwu
  • Apapa perennial traffic has internal sabotage – Says Publisher of MMS Plus

(Report by Udeme Clement)

15 years after port concession in Nigeria, the devastating effect of Apapa perennial traffic gridlock is taking its toll on port operations, leaving maritime traders totally frustrated. While most port users lamented that port reform was wrongly implemented, others accused the players involved of hidden agenda.

The President,
Maritime Journalists Association of Nigeria (MAJAN), Comrade Ray Ugochukwu, blames the Federal Government for carrying out port concession without due diligence and effective Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) on the economic implications.

Ugochukwu, made this known while giving his welcome address at the occasion of Maritime summit, organied by MAJAN, at Rockview Hotel, Apapa, Lagos.

He pointed out:
“Nigeria is the only country in the world where a huge exercise like Port Reform took place without Environmental Impact Assessment before commencement.

“Before port concession, virtually all the trucks were in the ports because Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), had enough space. With the reform, the planners knew that the trucks would be displaced and adequate provision needed to be made to accommodate their presence in the new dispersion. That was not done !

“Shipping firms ought to have had their holding bays ready for empty containers before the flagoff of the scheme. That was not also considered, because the drivers of the scheme had a different thing up their sleeves.”

The MAJAN President went on:
“By January 2006, the displaced vehicles found themselves on the port access roads competing for space. In the face of this, authority were still busy granting licenses to private investors to establish tank farms along already busy port access roads. With the presence of petrol tankers from all over the country queuing up to lift petroleum products from tank farms, coupled with their Container-laden counterparts, confusion started in Apapa.”

Ugochukwu, who is also the Editor-In-Chief of Powerful Pen Newspaper, pointed out: “In 2004, experts from Port of Antwerp, Belgium were invited by NPA to help fashion out the best model for Nigeria port concession initiative. After a visit to all the ports and facilities in Nigeria, the team cautioned Nigeria to “make haste slowly”, warning that any single mistake could ruin the entire economy, stressing that it took them 50 years to fully reform their ports.

” Sadly, Nigerian authorities never listened, as their own interest was to hand over port terminals to private operators. We now know the eventual beneficiaries of the exercise !
At present, the consequences of refusal to heed the warming of the experts are starring us all on the face”.

He informed that the players involved in port reform in Nigeria, were the same persons who carried out port reform in Madagascar with due diligence. While that of Madagascar succeeds, port reform in Nigeria becomes a pain in the neck of port users.

He emphasised that Apapa taffic gridlock impeding port operations is one of the sad consequences of government not following due diligence in port concession.

Ugochukwu revealed,;
“About a month ago, the cost of moving a container from TinCan Island Port to National Bus stop, a distance of less than one kilometre, increased to over N1.2 million from N70,000, an increase of more than N1.1 million, due to traffic gridlock on ports access roads.”

Speaking further on the importance of the summit, he commended the Managing Director of NPA for her efforts in trying to curb the menace, especially with introduction of electronic call-up system.

Also, the Publisher of MMS Plus and President of League of Maritime Editors & Publishers Mr. Kingsley Anaroke, in a chat with Journalists at the sidelines of the summit
said; “A collective approach is needed to tackle the perennial traffic gridlock on ports access roads.”

He added; “We need the cooperation of all government agencies, regulatory authorities, terminal operators, shipping companies and all relevant stakeholders in the maritime industry to solve the problem.

“We also need the political will to do the right thing, at the right time. We need sincerity as well. Above all, we should pray for the Cabal behind the traffic gridlock to be defeated”.

Mr Anaroke, who is one of the most experienced Journalists in the maritime sector, commended MAJAN for its consistent advocacy in finding lasting solution to Apapa traffic.

Our investigations revealed that, today, businesses within Apapa are closing shop, even as residents are forced to abandon their homes.
Trucks are parked on both sides of the roads, with truck drivers and their assistants openly defecating on the express-way.

In fact, aside from negative effects on businesses and cargo movement from the seaports, the situation in Apapa community constitutes serious health hazards to people still living there.

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