A stakeholders’ meeting called by the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) to find solution to the intractable Apapa gridlock became rowdy yesterday when major stakeholders took exception to the comment by KayodeOpeifa, the executive vice chairman of the presidential Task Team, that there was no longer gridlock in Apapa.
Opeifa had in his opening remarks stated that there was no longer gridlock in Apapa, stressing that gridlock was in the imagination of the media.
He said his team had on several occasions cleared the port access roads of trucks, and accused the media of inventing gridlock because they are not on ground to see what has been achieved.
But the stakeholders, which included the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), and Apapa residents took their turn to denounce Opeifa’s claim, stressing that entrenched interest has turned the unfortunate crisis into a corrupt enterprise.
They described the Apapa situation as a shame to Nigeria, adding that the ongoing port access roads not withstanding, deep rooted corruption and operational deficiencies on the part of terminal operators must be addressed by the federal government as a long terms solution to the crisis.
Specifically, the stakeholders also accused APM Terminals and other container terminals of deliberately instigating the crisis for their economic gain.
In her speech, Apapa Port Manager, NPA, Funmi Olotu said the claim that there was no longer gridlock in Apapa cannot be correct as she has personally found it difficult to drive to her office via the port access road.
“We are talking about why the trucks should not be staying on the road, why are they there? Because there are armed security men on bridges passing, controlling, saying you can go; you cannot go. Can we have the armed men off the bridges so that the trucks can be moving? We know points where we can stop the trucks. What we have said is that transit Truck Park are no garages, we are not inviting trucks to stay at the transit parks.
“One of the things we have noticed is that some of the illegal trucks approaching the port either have uniformed men driving them or escorting. What we have also discovered is that during the day when all eyes are open everybody wants to comply with the call up system, then we now say 12 am to 5 am manufacturers trucks can move but their drivers have also turned the opportunity into a business”