… As FG impounds vehicles blocking the road
Stories by Isaac Anumihe
As part of measures to ease the traffic gridlock at Apapa Road and facilitate the implementation of the Executive Order on the ease of doing business, the Federal Government, last week, impounded a number of trucks found outside the holding bay.
This was as Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) on November 11, 2017 gave truck owners and shipping companies till November 23, 2017 to evacuate all their trucks into their holding bays or have them impounded.
But at the expiration of the deadline last week, several vehicles were impounded.
The agency maintained that trucks called up to access the port must maintain a single lane profile as designated by new Traffic Management/Enforcement Team, comprising the Nigerian Police, Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Lagos State Transport Management Agency (LASTMA), the Nigerian Navy, the Nigerian Civil Defence Corps and NPA Security.
The NPA also ordered that tramping trucks milling around in search of customers within the port area would be impounded by the inter-agency Traffic Management/Enforcement Team and dealt with in accordance with the law.
“The Authority, as part of its commitment to the decongestion of traffic in the Apapa area, will advertise for the licensing of trailer parks as a way of creating holding bay facilities for truckers.
“In addition, the NPA will deploy an effective call-up system which will link the port gate with the trailer parks facility and as such, trucks will only be called up at the appropriate time” the General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications, Mr. Abdullahi Goje, said.
This appeared like last ditch effort to salvage the decrepit Apapa Road network which has become an albatross to residents and road users.
This was highlighted by a new report released by a leading maritime consulting firm that more than half of the container trucks visiting Apapa, Lagos daily have no immediate business to transact at the port.
The report, which stemed from an independent study conducted by Ships & Ports and a don at the Lagos Business School, Dr. Frank Ojadi, also stated that truckers that genuinely have business to do in Apapa Port spend an average turnaround time of two days.
“The report was prepared to give insight into the number of container trucks coming into Apapa Port in relation to the total number of trucks sighted in the Apapa environs.
“Two notorious spots were selected – the beginning of Creek Road at the tip of Liverpool Bridge and the start of Wharf Road near Area B – to collect information on trucks coming into Apapa.
“It was observed that 44 per cent of the containers coming into the Apapa through these access points were intended for transactions in Apapa Port, while 56 per cent trucks come in without any form of transactions in the port in mind.
“The data gathered were analyzed to show the time and frequency taken from sighting to entry into the port,” the report stated. A total of 5515 trucks were surveyed at both observation points over a period of two weeks.
The report stated that the prolonged closure of the Ijora Bridge, which is the main exit point from Apapa for repairs, is a major contributor to the perennial traffic congestion in the area.
“The Ijora Bridge is the main exit point from Apapa but it has been closed to repairs. Twenty days was communicated for the repairs but it is still closed more than 30 days after.
“An alternative route is the Leventis exit by the bridge but this exit is narrow and riddled with several bad spots. The Leventis exit is also characterized by truckers moving against traffic, thus blocking the outbound traffic for several hours. The truckers are aided by security officials who collect money and pass trucks and tankers.
“The Federal Operations Unit of the Nigeria Customs Service has also set up checkpoint for container-laden trucks along the same stretch during the day,” the report said.
The report also found that there are no traffic management system to coordinate the affairs of the multiple government agencies responsible for traffic control in Apapa.
According to the report, “There is no engagement or communication with or to stakeholders before roads are closed and to control abuses and corrupt practices. There are also no tow trucks or rescue equipment to address the constant breakdown of trucks and containers falling along the road.
“The collapse of the Apapa-Oshodi expressway, which is the major entry and exit point for trucks accessing the Tin Can Island Port has led to an increased number of trucks accessing these facilities through the narrow Apapa-Wharf road, thereby compounding the congestion on this stretch of road,” the report further stated.
However, various stakeholders interviewed in the course of the study believe that the solution to the Apapa gridlock is to compel shipping lines to receive all empties at their empty depots.
The report, however, disagrees stating that “While the popular notion on the return of empty containers have no direct impact on port operations, the study supports the assumption that it may compound the Apapa gridlock. This is because more than 80 per cent of truckers perform dual transactions i.e. drop off empties and pick up imports. This implies that the return of empty containers to depots will add more trucks to the road when they have to return the empties to the terminal.”
The report also stated that Apapa Port has recorded significant drop in gate transactions in the last few weeks due to the traffic gridlock.
“Yard Occupancy is currently at 80 per cent which is above the 70 per cent mark for efficient port operations, thereby requiring more resources to be deployed as there are more re-handles to be done.
“Operators are only able to meet and exceed expected transactions on Sundays because the traffic is lighter on those days,” the report added.
If this report is anything to go by, it means that 56 per cent of the trucks that do not have business in Apapa just park on the road because nobody bothered to ask questions. It is against this backdrop that NPA, in conjunction with other government agencies, impounded some trucks last week which have no business along the road. When the trailer parks are fully operational, a lot of the trucks will incur a lot of demurrage because it will no longer be business as usual. This will discourage indiscriminate parking and abandonment of movable and immovable trucks on the road.