The Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN) on Tuesday said it expects the Apapa gridlock to reduce before the end of January 2018 as a result of decline in importation activities.
STOAN Chairman, Princess Vicky Haastrup, in a statement on Tuesday, said the reduction of the gridlock is not because any significant measure has been taken to address the cause of the problem, but due to an anticipated drop in importation.
Speaking on the issue, “The last quarter of every year usually marks the peak of importation activities at the port. Now that the 2017 importation peak season is over, the number of trucks coming to the port is expected to reduce thereby providing temporary relief to road users.”
She said the situation, however, means less cargo and less volume for the port, especially in the first quarter of 2018. Princess Haastrup said the off-peak period provides opportunity for the Federal and Lagos State governments to address the root cause of the gridlock.
“The reasons for the gridlock are along two major lines. One is that there is a proliferation of petroleum tankers due to the preponderance of fuel tank farms and petroleum deports in the Apapa community.
“This is an anomaly, which should urgently be corrected by the Federal Government. The correction is to facilitate the distribution of petroleum products through pipelines, and not using trucks. Also, once government can get the refineries working, there will no longer be need for tank farms in Apapa, which attract these trucks.
“The other reasons for the gridlock are the dilapidated state of roads leading into and out of Apapa, as well as the absence of truck parks.
“Government can address these by taking advantage of the off-peak season to intensify road rehabilitation works and make relevant provision for truck holding bays before the next cycle of high level activities sets in.
“There is also an opportunity to begin implementation of the much touted truck call up system to ensure that only trucks that have business to do at the port are granted access into Apapa.” She therefore urged the Federal Government to review its tariff policy on some imported items including vehicles, rice and fish to reduce smuggling.
The STOAN Chairman also said that the nation’s seaports have been positioned to support the Federal Government’s economic diversification and export drive.
According to her, “Terminal operators across the various ports have made substantial investments in the capital development of their various areas of operations. We have carried out major investments in terminal upgrades, acquisition of modern cargo handling equipment and training of port workers.
“All of these,’ she said, ‘’were done with the view of supporting government’s economic aspirations for the country, including the drive to diversify the nation’s economic base and promote non-oil export.”