By Gboyega Oni
The National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) has petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari over the deplorable state of the roads connecting the two major seaports in Apapa and Tincan Island, Lagos and invited him to see the ugly spectacles for himself.
The petition via a letter titled: Re: The State of The Port Access Roads in Lagos: Need to Declare a State of Emergency by Mr. President was signed by Forwarder Dipo Olayoku, Secretary General and made available to PortNewsNigeria in Lagos.
Worried by the poor state of the roads, NAGAFF called on the President to step into the matter and declare a state of emergency, stressing that both Apapa and Tincan Island ports, if well harnessed and utilized optimally, could fetch up to N7trn annually into the national coffers.
The association noted further that Nigeria is losing close to N12bn daily because of the unacceptable situation of the roads, besides the stress and concurrent health hazard to those who commute these roads daily.
“We write this letter which is a sort of “Save our Souls” appeal to you to step into the unacceptable state of the Port Access Roads leading to the Apapa and Tincan Island Ports in Lagos. NAGAFF is a critical stakeholder in the Maritime Sector of the Nigerian economy. We are the umbrella body of Freight Forwarders in Nigeria, whose presence can be found in all the approved entry points into Nigeria.
“We are by this letter, Mr. President, drawing your attention to the very deplorable state of the access roads into Apapa and Tincan Island Ports which are the two critical ports that when well harnessed and utilized optimally can bring up to N7trn annually to the country. It is a common saying that if a country has access to the sea she has access to the riches of the world. In these days and times where international trade is in the front burner of countries Nigeria cannot and should indeed not be found wanting more so as we have these ports in our territorial boundary.
“It is apt sir to let you know that the situation of these roads has been like this for months on end without any visible attempt by Government to ameliorate the situation. In a situation where on a daily basis articulated trucks and petrol tankers stay for days on bridges that were not initially built to carry such enormous weight leaves much to be desired. We believe that the integrity of these bridges right now could be called to question,” said NAGAFF.
According to NAGAFF, “It has been said that because of this unacceptable situation Nigeria is losing close to N12bn daily. This is beside the stress and concurrent health implication to those who commute on these roads daily.
“We appeal to you Sir, to declare a state of emergency on these roads. The tank farms that envelope the entire Apapa and environs should as a matter of urgency be made to be relocated outside the port environment to make the fuel tankers that come into Apapa everyday to lift fuel on a daily basis be looked into. The tank farms constitute a danger to lives and properties of the people who either live or work in Apapa, Ijora, Coconut Area etc. In the event of any emergency as a result of fire out-break, no one living in the area will be able to escape as the two roads leading to these areas are always completely blocked by traffic caused by these trucks. Even the emergency services won’t be able to move into the area to effect any help as the roads will be blocked.
“As a proactive measure to this probability Sir, we plead once again that a state of emergency be declared on these roads to save both the economy and the catastrophe that can occur if there is a fire incident in any of the tank farms. The current crisis arising from traffic gridlock occasioned by bad road within the access road to Apapa/Tincan Island Port necessitated our request for state of emergency to be declared. We just hope that the overhead bridges will not collapse any moment because the integrity of the bridges are suspects right now.
“In the case of pronouncing a state of emergency wherein the ongoing palliative works which is progressing in a Snail pace, there is the urgent need to divert some of the incoming vessels to the Eastern ports. The consequences of port congestion is not new in Nigeria, the experiences of cement Amanda in the seventies readily comes to mind. Things of this nature should not be allowed to happen again. The long run measures shall be to encourage intermodal transport system through rails to ease the tension on our roads to other parts of the Federation.”
The association therefore invited President Buhari to visit the ports to ascertain the situation, “It shall make a lot of sense that you take out time to visit the ports and see things for yourself. An eye witness account shall help you to make an informed decision.”