Resolutions of the Senate were sequel to a motion titled: ‘Urgent Need to Tackle the Protracted Apapa Gridlock in Lagos and Embrace the Newly Introduced Electronic Call-Up system of Admitting Trucks into the Terminal’.
The motion was sponsored by Senator Oluremi Tinubu and co-sponsored by senators Solomon Adeola and Adetokunbo Abiru.
Presenting the motion, Senator Tinubu said: “The Senate notes with great displeasure the gridlock which has persisted on access roads to Apapa Seaport in Lagos and has, for many years, been a source of heartache for individuals and businesses plying the road.
“Senate is also aware that the gridlock has persisted due to the terrible condition of Apapa port, the concentration of Tank Farms in the area, indiscriminate parking of petroleum tankers and trailers wanting to load petroleum products from the tank farms and the racket created by persons benefiting from the chaotic situation.
“Senate is also aware that the tank farms attract thousands of trucks and tanker drivers who lift the petroleum products for onward supply to Nigerians who owing to the paucity of parking lots take up all the spaces on the road instead thereby causing traffic.
“The Senate is also informed that there about 40 tank farms in the Apapa axis alone. This over-concentration is disadvantageous because one accident could be the undoing of this very important aspect of the Federal Government highway.
“The Senate is also informed that the unpalatable situation has made the area a goldmine for unscrupulous persons and operatives who have gone on to create a racket profiting off the turmoil created.
“Senate decries the poor quality of port access roads, complex ports procedures and ineffective truck call up system among other factors contributing to delays, inefficiencies and gridlock in Apapa with a huge cost to Nigeria’s economy.
“The Senate notes that this gridlock has increased the cost of doing business, encourage illegalities and stiffen ports activities with its attendant negative impact on government’s revenue projections.
“The Senate is concerned that the roads leading to Apapa are characterised with so much traffic that people would rather walk than drive.
“The Senate is worried that this gridlock has continued to pose a security threat to the lives of innocent Nigerians as hoodlums exploit the situation to disposes motorists and passers-by of their valuables.
“The Senate is also worried that due to the deplorable state of the roads, and the number of trucks and containers on the road, there have been several cases of containers falling on smaller vehicles, killing innocent citizens while goods worth millions of Naira are also destroyed or stolen in these accidents.
“The Senate further notes that only recently, following allegations of extortion by security operatives posted to the area, the Presidential Task Force handed over the reins of managing the traffic situation to the Lagos State Government which in turn set up the Apapa Special Traffic Management…
“The Senate observes that the NPA recently introduced the electronic Call-Up system for admitting trucks into the terminal and to control the movement of trucks in and out of Lagos Seaports.
“The Senate is concerned that despite the well-intentioned initiative the chaotic traffic situation still lingers as tankers and trucks are still parked indiscriminately on the roads causing inconvenience to residents, commuters and business activities in the area.
“The Senate is also concerned that tankers have not been incorporated into the e-call up system and the areas where container trucks used to be stationed have now been taken over by the tankers.
“Bothered by the seeming discord among stakeholders in the implementation of the e-call up system, NUPENG representatives have reportedly stated that the initiative is not feasible not only because alternative parking lots have not been provided, but also because as a body, NUPENG is not subject to the authority of the implementing agency in the Nigerian Ports Authority.
“The Senate is further concerned that clearing agents and truck owners along the port’s access roads at the Tincan Island Port complex accused officials of the NPA, security agents and the police personnel who are deployed to manage traffic in the area of sabotaging the smooth operation of the newly introduced e-call up system by colluding with community boys, touts and miscreants who disregard official e-call up tickets to extort truckers.
“Senate notes allegations by industry operators such as the National Association of Road Transport Workers that human interference in the e-call up system continues to hamper resolution of the issues and compound the problem.
Apapa gridlock an embarrassment to Nigeria
“The Senate, however, is saddened that the current Apapa gridlock has become an embarrassment to our nation and a sore point for maritime business along the Lagos and Tincan Island Ports corridor and also saddened that this has a huge impact on the ease of doing business in Nigeria, shipping and the final cost of goods.
“The Senate is further saddened about the diversion of Nigerian bound cargoes to neighbouring country’s seaports.
“Senate is however reminded being the country’s most valuable import and export gateway, and a high yielding revenue hub, Apapa port is currently raking in over N1trillion annually into Federal Government’s treasury through various taxes, levies and tariffs.
“The Senate is equally reminded that as a stakeholder in the success of Nigeria, we must ensure viable working systems and institutions that benefit the populace.”