Fashola: Apapa Gridlock Requires More Than Good Road Network
The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has said that the lingering gridlock at the Apapa port area requires more than good road network for it to ease.
The Minister, who spoke exclusively to Vanguard, pointed out that while the major roads around the area had been done with few waiting to be completed with concrete, the pervasive traffic in the area has continued unabated, an indication that it was not just the problem of roads.
Fashola said: “If you go to the road now, you would see that the main carriageway, which is three-lane each of 37 kilometres from Port entrance to Tin Can has been completed. The section between Tin Can and Mile 2, which was built with asphalt which has now failed, has been awarded so that we do everything with concrete.
“From Mile 2 to Oworonshoki on the main carriageway has been completed. So, it is not a road problem anymore beyond that point between Tin Can and Mile 2, which we left at that time because it was still in good condition though it was built with asphalt. “We have now decided to use concrete to build everything. We have finished Liverpool Road with concrete, which had totally collapsed. We have finished Wharf Road with concrete also.
So, it is still a road project? The minister pointed out that beyond roads, Nigerians must not lose sight of the fact that the port which was built over 100 years ago, has been overstretched given the growing population of Nigeria and the facilities at the port.
The minister said, “But people must remember that that port was built around 1920 when our population was not this big, when our economy was not this large and when we did not have a large number of importers and exporters. It is 100 years since the port was built. There was an expansion from Apapa when they built the Tin Can Island Port in 1975-76. That was the first port expansion and there has been no expansion since then.
“This Apapa-Oshodi road was part of the port expansion. It was not there before 1976. Right now, the Federal Government is undertaking a rail project to the port and the port is no longer being run by the government but has been concessioned to a private sector operation while the NPA is only the regulator representing the government.
“If someone wants to do business in the port and there is no scanner to clear their container they may have to wait for them to do it manually and while that happens the next truck must wait. That is not a road problem. “That is why the government is planning a single window to handle this thing seamlessly.
Essentially, we have outgrown those ports and that is we are building the Lekki Port. We are living on an infrastructure that is over 40 years old. In the 70s Nigeria’s GDP was barely $50 billion but it is now $400+ billion using the same system. “A lot of work is being done to make things work better and faster at the port.
There are also human elements who try to frustrate these efforts to make things work better but the truth is that the persistent gridlock is less of a road problem,” the minister explained.