Apapa business community including residents were excited last year when told that the construction of road would be completed in June. The news came after years of despondency, frustration and deaths recorded by residents and workers who ply the road regularly.
Speaking while inspecting the construction of the Wharf Road in Lagos, the Chairman/President of AG Dangote, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, said that the entire road was costing the Federal Government N4.3 billion. He noted that Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) will be contributing about N1.8 billion while the balance of N2.6 billion would be provided both by Flour Mills of Nigeria and Dangote Group.
“But I must also caution that the cost of the road is not open because we got our own construction company to do it at a cost.
The construction company is building it at a cost and you can go and ask anybody. After we finished the road, you can bring Julius Berger and other construction companies and when they cost the road, you will see they will double the price” he said.
Dangote who was impressed at the progress of work rekindled hope that very soon, commuters will smile as the traffic on the road will be smooth and jeamless.
“AG Dangote is doing excellent job. The road construction is funded by Dangote, Flour Mills and NPA. The quality of the road is really very impressive and amazing because we thought we are just doing a normal road but even in Germany you cannot see this kind of road. This road will last at least a minimum of two generations. I am talking of over 60 years,” the president said.
While all the attention is focused on the Ijora-Wharf Road, little or no attention is being paid to the Mile 2-Wharf Road which is a major artery into Apapa.
That is why stakeholders are angry against Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and tank farm owners who have their facilities along the road.
President, National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), Lucky Amiwero, argued that NPA collects three per cent of the seven per cent port development levy and under the provision of section 32 of the Port Act, the authority has the sole responsibility to maintain and manage the port road and should not abdicate that duty to the tank farms.
“Under the provision of Section 32 of the Port Act, NPA is supposed to maintain, control and manage that road. By the provision of section 35 (a) it is under the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) because when you look at the diagram, it is very clear that the Ijora- Wharf Road is not the port road. That is not where you have the traffic. The traffic is on Apapa–Oshodi Road. That is where Apapa and Tin Can containers go to. That is where the Flour Mills containers go to. Nobody goes to Ijora-Wharf Road. It is only Dangote and Flour Mills trucks that ply the road because their factories are located there..
Again, Dangote is not a construction company. If they had given it to Julius Berger or other construction companies it would have been better. Dangote is doing that because its company is located along that axis.
The Mile 2–Wharf Road has crippled the economy. A lot of people have died on that road. A lot of containers have fallen on that road. That road has become a national disgrace. NPA collects three per cent of the seven per cent port development levy. It ought to have used that money for holding bays, truck parks and to maintain that road. NPA is not a revenue collector. NPA or Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) declaring revenue is abnormal. They are not revenue agencies. They have their core competences. They are to make sure that our ports are navigable.
They are to ensure that bigger ships come into our ports. Now most of the ships that are supposed to come to Nigerian ports are going to Togo, Ghana and Benin Republic. NPA should be concerned with their core competence. Their major responsibility is to make sure that the port drought is deep enough to allow mega ships—ships that carry up to 10,000 teus and not those that bring 1000 containers or 1500 containers. NPA should concern itself with the marine side of its mandate. NPA lost that operation to the terminal operators. NPA is a service provider and should be seen as such,” he insisted.
However, the tank farm owners did not escape the blame as Chief Osita Chukwu, who is the co-ordinator of Save Nigeria Freight Forwarders.
Chukwu had condemned the manner the urban planners, under the two former governors of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and Babatunde Fashola, for granting licences to owners of tank farms who introduce the trucks that destroyed the road.
For destroying the road with their tankers, he said, the tank farm owners should equally take the responsibility to fix the road.
“The urban planners have failed Nigeria because without them granting licences to the tank farm owners, their trucks would not have spoilt the road.
They should, therefore, pool resources to fix the road. Mobile did the same thing at Boundary, Ajegunle (formerly Malu Road). The Malu Road was renamed Mobile Road because Mobile Oil took the sole responsibility of fixing the road,” he said.
In his own submission, an importer, Mr Eddy Akwaeze, suggested a concession of the Mile 2–Apapa Road to industries along the road.
He said that the same thing is happening in Ogun State along Agbara area of the state where industries were given waivers to construct the road. The same thing, he said, should replicate itself on Apapa-Oshodi Road because the government through Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) cannot fix the road.
“The government has failed. NPA itself is looking at the Federal Government. NPA cannot do it and so it should concession it (the road) to some industries that are there; give them waivers just like in Ogun State where some industries within Agbara area were given waivers to fix the road. They gave them waivers on taxes. That is the only way we can get something done along the road,” he said.