The Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN) has advised that the planned simultaneous closure of the Marine Bridge and Wharf Road in Apapa, Lagos, from next week may cause congestion at the port.
The Spokesman of STOAN, Mr Bolaji Akinola, gave the advice in a statement issued in Lagos on Thursday.
He said the simultaneous closure of the Wharf Road and the Marine Bridge would lead to a build-up of cargo inside the port and consequently port congestion.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that contractor handling the rehabilitation of Wharf road, Dangote A.S., recently announced plans to close both sides of the road, Apapa inward and outward.
The Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing also announced plans to shut the Marine Bridge in Apapa for permanent repairs as Julius Berger Plc., the contractor, was ready to move to site.
“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.
“The implication of this is that there will be 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.
“Once vessel queues return, shipping lines congestion surcharge, which could amount to as much as 100 million dollars per month could be slammed on Nigerian ports and this cost will ultimately be borne by the market.”
He suggested that the repairs should be done in phases, adding that alternative routes should be opened up by Dangote A.S. and Julius Berger before any of the routes is shut.
“The road remains the major route by which cargoes are evacuated from the port.
“Failure to create alternative routes before the major repair works are embarked upon will create a major crisis in the port,” the STOAN spokesman said.
Akinola said the poor state of the roads, especially the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway and ongoing repair works on a section of the Wharf Road had already created major challenges for port operation leading to gridlock.
According to him, this has led to a near paralysis of movement into and out of Apapa.