As stakeholders continue the search for solutions to the ever worsening gridlock in Apapa and its access roads, the Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO) says it is about losing an identified, strategic and sizeable property for truck park, which would be a major solution to the congestion problem.
This comes as the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, voiced government’s admission that the level of infrastructure decay, vandalism and deterioration in Apapa, where the nation’s two major seaports are located, could shut down, rather than boost the economy.
Inspecting the roads and other infrastructure in Apapa last weekend, Fashola noted that the nation would be shut down if Liverpool Road in Apapa and Funsho Williams Avenue, which connects to Ijora Bridge, were lost.
To avoid that, he urged Reynolds Construction Company (RCC), which is rehabilitating the Funsho Williams Road to Ijora Bridge, to speed up the job, while also extending President Muhammadu Buhari’s gratitude to the private stakeholder-financiers of the Apapa-Wharf Road reconstruction work.
However, AMATO President, Mr. Remi Ogungbemi, told The AUTHORITY that the property, already asphalted, costs about N3 billion and is located approximately 2.5km to both the Apapa and Tin Can Island ports, with a capacity for a minimum of 1,000 trucks, stretchable to about 1,500 trucks if the need arises.
Ogungbemi regretted that though the association has been negotiating with the willing and ready owners of the property, it does not have the capacity for such huge sum for an outright purchase, as the owners are insisting.
To that end, AMATO is pleading with both the Federal and Lagos State governments to intervene and acquire the land for this purpose as loan to the body and take the huge number of trucks off the port access roads and the bridges, while recouping the fund through a convenient method that would be worked out between the concerned parties.
According to him, the trucks will only be released from the holding bay onto the port roads through the call-up system, thereby ensuring an efficient management of the port roads while also guaranteeing payment for use of the property as well as terminal charges.
AMATO had also at a recent forum in Lagos solicited the assistance of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) to draw the Federal Government’s support to the same course, stating that the property was ready for occupation as soon as payment was made.