Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has inspected the ongoing work to clear the traffic gridlock that has for some time, inhibited commercial activities in Apapa, Lagos, where two of Nigeria’s seaports are located.
Professor Osinbajo visited different areas of Apapa on Saturday, including the truck terminal near Ijora, the entrance to the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, Liverpool and TinCan Island as well as several road projects in the area to ascertain the level or work done by the Presidential Task Force saddled with the responsibility of clearing the area.
The Nigerian government had in May this year given a directive that roads leading into Apapa, the major sea gateway to Nigeria, be cleared to allow for free flow of traffic in and out of the ports.
Speaking to reporters after the inspection, he said a lot of work has been done so far, noting that there were several aspects of the task to be done.
“First, there is infrastructure around the ports and I’m sure you’ve seen, going around with us, that a lot has been done, and we think that we are in a very good place, especially with respect to the improvement of infrastructure.
“The other thing is in the clearing of the trailers and tankers along the various routes and I’m sure you have seen there is considerable improvement…The Mile 2 end of it is where there is some difficulty but we think that in the next couple of days that will be resolved, especially with the opening up of the Tin Can Island Trailer Park and the palliative work that is going all the way down to Mile 2.
“So, we think that we should be able to resolve that congestion in the Mile 2 end and of course, you have seen that the entry to the port is essentially clear,” Professor Osinbajo said.
The Vice President said government was adopting short-term, mid-term and long-term approaches towards resolving the problem in the Apapa area, stressing that the port was handling cargo beyond its capacity.
“One of the mid to long-term measures is trying to decongest the traffic coming into the port, cargo traffic coming into the port and coming out of the port…This is a port that is meant to take 34 million metric tons of cargo now doing over 80; in fact 85 to 86 million metric tons today.
“So, there is obviously the need to find alternatives and to expand where that is possible…Of course, the Lekki Port is an ongoing project and we expect that will be of great help to supporting the Apapa, TinCan Island ports and then we are dredging the Warri Port also.
“Then just to decongest, to ensure that the traffic of cargo out of the port is effectively done, you know that the Lagos-Kano rail line is also starting from the Apapa Port.
“So, we expect that we should be able to get cargo out of the Apapa Port, using the standard gauge rail to take cargo out of the Apapa Port out to the hinterland.
“Then of course we are using barges at the moment; the NPA is using barges. So, there are several approaches to this,” Professor Osinbajo said.
Explaining that Nigeria is a big economy with a lot of commercial activities, the vice president said that traffic was bound to increase and be heavier.
On ways to sustain the work done to decongest the gridlock in the area, Professor Osinbajo said having understood what the problem is and with the work done so far to resolve it, there was no doubt that it would be sustained.
Professor Osinbajo was accompanied by the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu and the Managing Director of the NPA, Hadiza Bala-Usman.