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Stakeholders urge government to act on Apapa roads

Apapa roads

By Oluyinka Onigbinde

Stakeholders in the maritime sector have called on the Federal Government to act swiftly on the dilapidated access road to the nation’s Sea ports, that serve as the economic hub of the country

 The significance of Apapa to the nation’s economy cannot be overemphasized!  The Nigerian Ports Authority contributes 70 per cen to the  national income and the Apapa port gives the lion share of the  income generated. Thousands of Nigerians have their daily job in this  domain, with many business concerns located in the area. But the   poorest roads in Nigeria are also found in Apapa. The roads have been   left in a shambles and utter neglect.

Transacting business activities in the two most commercialised ports  in Nigeria is a nightmare because of the comatose road and traffic  gridlock experienced to and fro the environment. Whether you enter Apapa through Mile 2-Tin Can or Ijora, the situation is nothing but bad road and bad road all through. A regular five-minute trip can last  two hours.

News Direct took time out on a two-day investigative report on the  Apapa road to meet with the stakeholders on the way out. It would be  recalled that recently, a protest took place at Apapa in which protesters visited the office of the Managing Director of Nigerian  Ports Authority, Hadiza Bala Usman who swiftly attended to the  protesters who had issued an ultimatum. Although, she claimed the rehabilitation and construction of the road is not within the purview  of her establishment, she, however, took a bold step to make a  separate budget that includes the construction of the road.

 It was found that business owners, organizations and concerned  residents of Apapa have come together to contribute positively to the  rehabilitation of the roads. For example, trucks which had the name AG  Dangote, a subsidiary of Dangote Group of Companies, were observed on  site. Speaking with some of the workers, they explained that they are  doing palliative work. Nonetheless, they cannot assure when the repair  of the road would be completed.  Another worker said they have been  mandated to fix every pothole and bad road in the area and other  routes that link the Apapa road.

 Meanwhile, affected mini-business owners, residents, and other road  users have identified tanker drivers and heavy duty truck drivers as  major cause of traffic congestion and damage to the road.

 When News Direct contacted Alhaji Isa Abdullahi, National Coordinator, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) at  their Apapa office, he stated: ‘Apapa is the heartbeat of Lagos and  Nigeria. There is need to put priority on this area.  Mr. Babatunde  Fashola was the Governor of Lagos state and now the Minister for   Works, so he knows better about the situation of Apapa and he has the  capacity to address the challenges we are experiencing in Apapa. The situation is not helping our business operations. The government  should do a reconstruction of the roads. The Federal government can  give the state government the go-ahead to do the roads and reimburse  them later all in the interest of the people and the country at large.

 On the suggestion raised by some stakeholders for government to  concession the Apapa roads, Alhaji Isa said: ‘Concession of the roads  is not a good idea because of the current state of the economy and the  suffering of the people.’ He advised that there are other ways to go  about the road project rather than suggesting concession.

On the  gridlock on the road, he said, ‘I was surprised to hear that the state government banned the Vehicle Inspection Office and Federal Road  Safety Corps on Lagos roads. He said: ‘the agencies are needed to curb  gridlock on the roads.’ He advised that awareness and reorientation is the way-out for the tanker drivers, commercial bus drivers, truck  drivers and other road users on the road.

He said: ‘the way and manner  at which truck and tanker drivers behave while driving is condemnable.’ He advised that the FRSC,  LASTMA, VIO and the Taskforce team need to come together for an  emergency meeting on the road, do like a workshop or seminar, interact  with these drivers on the use of the roads and make the roads friendly  for other  users. He accused some of the taskforce earlier constituted  of abandoning their duties and  collecting bribes from the  drivers and allowed them to continue to park anywhere on the road. He added: ‘Government must work on Apapa because of the oil sector business.

 If they can repair the pipelines like the one in Kano state  then I believe it will be better and Lagos will be fully engaged again  and improve the revenue.’

 In a separate interview with Hon. Lasbat Mojisola, representing Apapa  Constituency 1, she said she is doing her best to bridge the gap  between the people of Apapa and the state government as a lawmaker.

 She said that she doesn’t have the capacity to build infrastructure  and that she can only lobby the government to do such and that is why  we can see the state government in Apapa. On the dilapidated state of  Apapa roads, the lawmaker said: ‘Presently, we can see Flourmills,  Dangote and others coming together to rehabilitate some portion of the  road already. She said before the end of the year, Apapa will wear a  better look and the business activities would have also improved.’

She  said they are already working on energy to light-up  Apapa. On the cause of the gridlock in the area, she said: ‘if you are  familiar with the Apapa route, we hardly have trucks litter the  streets again. The problem of Apapa is the bad roads. She advised that  the way out is not rehabilitation but a complete reconstruction of the  roads because we need something to stand the test of time. Currently, arrangements are been made by companies to radio their trucks before  driving down to the area. The idea is if it is not time to come to the  depot you are not allowed to park by the road or around the gate. You will recall that His Governor Akinwunmi Ambode constituted a  taskforce to address the menace of tanker drivers on the roads. The  taskforce are still very much on ground and we encourage the Governor  to keep on the good works.

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