Against the backdrop of the two-week ultimatum issued by the Presidency on the evacuation of trucks on the Apapa Port access roads, the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) has called for more stringent measures to combat the problem.
The director-general of NECA, Mr. Timothy Olawale, commending the Federal Government, stated that the order was overdue.
He said, “Beyond the directive on evacuation of trucks from the roads, stringent action should be taken to ensure ease of clearing goods at the ports. Efforts to build alternative truck parks and reconstruction of the deplorable road networks should be fast-tracked.”
He called on the Vice President, who is the cChairman of the presidential task force on Apapa gridlock, to bring his commitment to bear on the conundrum, noting that resolving the mafia-like challenge would go a long way in returning Nigeria to the path of economic growth.
“The presidential order, though commendable, is overdue. Businesses, especially those using the ports for importation of raw materials, have had to face untold hardship and loss of money through the charade and high-level bottleneck that has created a platform for corruption in the ports. The adverse effects of the lingering traffic situation and bad road network within the Apapa/Tincan port axis and environs on corporate business, commercial activities as well as the socio-cultural way of life of individuals either residing or doing business within that environment cannot be over emphasised.”
While noting past pedestrian and failed efforts by government, the NECA boss averred that, “regardless of several efforts by government at the federal, state and even local government level to tackle the situation, we tend to have more of degeneration than a solution to the situation. Over the last couple of years, there have been recorded cases of companies either closing down permanently or relocating from Apapa completely. Apapa ports road has become a constant nightmare and is ever on complete lockdown due to the activities of the massive, unchecked and unregulated activities of trailers and tankers accessing the ports and various tank farms as well as bad road networks and the deplorable state of infrastructures in the area.”
Olawale lamented the colossal losses incurred by companies involved in the importation of sensitive raw materials. According to him, “aside from the physical and psychological trauma experienced by individuals, for organisations, the extent of man-hour loss is enormous. This deplorable situation has almost negated and rendered ineffective government’s efforts at improving the ease of doing business in Nigeria. Because of the congestions at the ports and road networks, there is high down time in the movement of vehicles to clear and transports materials and cargo from the ports, causing payment of demurrage, which adds to the cost of doing business, resulting in a situation that directly conflicts with the efforts of government to create better business environment.”