The Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN) has urged the government and contractors involved in the repair of the Wharf Road and the Marine Bridge in Lagos State, South West of Nigeria, not to simultaneously close the roads during the repair process.
It seeks partial closure of the roads and the repairs done in phases so as to avoid congestion that will happen if the roads were totally closed down during the process.
STOAN, in a statement signed by Bolaji Akinola, its spokesman, asserted that alternative routes should be opened up by Dangote A.S. and Julius Berger, the contractors, before any of the routes is shut as the road remains the major route by which cargoes are evacuated from the port, stressing that failure to create alternative routes before the major repair works are embarked upon will create a major crisis in the port.
Dangote A. S, the contractor handling the rehabilitation of Wharf Road, recently announced plans to close both sides of the road, Apapa inward and outward.
The Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing had also earlier announced plans to shut down the Marine Bridge in Apapa for permanent repairs as Julius Berger Plc., the contractor, was ready to move to site.
Akinola said the planned simultaneous closure of the Marine Bridge and Wharf Road in Apapa, Lagos, from next week to repair the roads would lead to a build-up of cargo inside the port and consequently port congestion.
He said the country’s ports risks as much as $100 million per month surcharge that could be slammed on them due to the return of vessel queues which will lead to the shipping lines congestion surcharge and the cost will ultimately be borne by the market.
“We commend the efforts of the Federal Government to address the issue of bad roads and the poor state of the bridge. However, the closure of both roads at about the same time will cause serious problem to the Lagos Port Complex, Apapa and the Tin Can Island Port.
“The bridge and the Wharf Road are the two major entry points into Apapa and shutting both down will mean cargoes will be trapped inside the port and the implication of this is that there will be the build-up of cargoes at the various terminals and port congestion will inevitably set in.
“In no time, vessel queues will return and Nigerian ports run the risk of returning to the point where they were prior to port concession,” he said.