By Ibiyemi Seun
Freight forwarders have called on the various labour unions in the maritime sector as well as truck owners and drivers to collaborate with the association to enforce a total shutdown of the Tin Can Island and the Apapa Ports until the government finds a lasting solution to the bad roads leading to the two Lagos ports.
Speaking with journalists in Lagos, factional Chairman, Board of Trustees (BOT) of Association of Nigeria Licensed Clearing Agents (ANLCA), Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha said that it was laughable that the decay in port infrastructure has defied even the intervention of the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, who visited the port recently.
Mustapha said that the approach that was applied at the Onne Port in Rivers state 20 years ago would now be applied on the Lagos ports. He recalled that 20 years ago when Onne road was bad and this prompted villagers from Onne, Eleme and Ekokiri villages to come out and barricade the road, insisting that nobody would pass through the road until the federal government had to come in and fix the roads.
“We joined them in this action, those of us in the industry had to join the villagers from Onne, Eleme and Ekokiri villages and make sure that for one week, no vehicles were allowed into or out of the port, it was even the military government then, they had to mobilize the contractors to come and start work on the road.
“I think from the way things are going, we would end up doing that in Apapa and Tin Can Ports. It is unfortunate that for now, our leadership (ANLCA) has not taken off properly, but I think very soon, we would call ourselves and talk sense to ourselves. It is not about politics or any personal interest, it is about our survival, and the earlier we do it the better.
“If there would not be work in Apapa and Tin Can ports, let there be no work, let us shut down everything. We have got to work with the labour union, the transporters and shut down everything for one week or more than that when the federal government realizes what we wanted, they would find solution to it”, he said.
Mustapha, who is an Onne-based licensed cus-toms agent, noted that although the situation is almost the same at all Nigerian ports, however noted that the infrastructure in Lagos is more decayed than what is obtainable in Port Harcourt and Onne ports.
He said there was need for an urgent intervention to fix the bad ports access roads, even as he advocated that vessels should be moved to ports like Warri and Calabar ports and Ikorodu which according to him are presently under-utilized.
“For now, Warri Port, Calabar Port are under-utilized, even Ikorodu is under-utilized, we can get flat bottom vessels that would move into all these places even if the dredging is not okay”, he advised.
The ANLCA BOT Chairman also called on the Lagos State Government to re-introduce a policy initiated during the Bola Tinubu tenure as governor of Lagos state which imposes N250,000 on any truck that breaks down on the expressway.
Back then, he said “any truck that broke down on the expressway was given just one hour to repair and move it out, failure to do this, government brought her own crane to remove it and the owner would end up paying N250, 000 fine, this made the truckers to ensure their trucks are road worthy, the state government should go back to this system to bring back the discipline.
“Since I have been travelling everywhere, this is the only country that I have seen that you have this kind of infrastructure and bad access road to a big sea port like Apapa, Tin Can and Onne Ports where billions of naira are coming in daily and yet we keep lamenting. This shows our mentality and or approach to things”, he lamented.