Pay unscheduled visit to Lagos ports to experience state of access roads, Port users tell Osinbajo
Stemming from the multiplier effects of his recent tour of Niger Delta region, stakeholders in the Apapa and TinCan ports, the nation’s flagship ports have cried onto the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo pay unscheduled visit, just as he did to the Lagos Airport recently.
It would be recalled that Nigeria’s oil output started looking up since the end of the tour of the region by the Vice President.
In fact, since after the visit and several town hall meetings, peace has not just returned, but real normalcy is on ground, leading to the rising crude output and rising foreign reserves that has been spurring the serial injection of dollars to the interbank market which has been frustrating currency speculators.
Some respondents who spoke to our correspondents within Apapa, Tincan and environ said if he visits without notice, even with the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, he may be compelled to recommend for the sack of the minister considering the level of failure of the road and the resultant collapse of businesses due to bad ports access roads.
Many of the respondents even advised him to come alongside members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to see how bad the roads are.
Some Apapa residents, motorists and stakeholders in the maritime industry said the visit would enable the Federal Government to assess the state of the Apapa and Tin-Can Island ports on one hand and the access problem.
They also averred that the visit will further raise salient questions on whereabouts of all the approvals and acclaimed repairs and developments of stagnant truck loading bays by some agencies of the maritime industry after all.
The Vice president will also see the claims of massive investments by the terminal operators which every hard remained very hard to see and feel by operators of businesses.
Other things the Vice President will see include how the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) failed to do anything reasonable to fix all the collapsed scanners over the years which had been the reason behind rising demurrages paid by importers due to delays in effecting 100 percent examination.
If Osinbajo will be accompanied by the former Governor of the State, Mr. Babatunde Fashola who now doubles as a Minister, he will ask him if this axis was part of the Lagos State he governed for eight year.
Port users raised several issues. They said if Osinbajo visits unannounced, some of the chief executives of maritime agencies may not only be invited for questioning in Abuja, afterwards, but may be sacked for inactivity.
In an interview with the founder of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr. Boniface Aniebonam, he said “Whereas the ports in Lagos remain the hub of exports and imports, making the main money for the Nigerian government, the axis is also suffering like Niger Delta”.
“So, just as he toured Niger Delta and things begin to look up, we need him in Apapa and Tincan as soon as possible, so that things can begin to look up.
“Thousands of businesses have closed shops due to abuse of the roads by oil tankers coming to load products at the depots lining up in the axis without any form of control.
An official of the Bible Society of Nigeria (BSN) told Business Hilights correspondent on grounds of anonymity that Apapa has lost its Port City glory due to long period of federal government attention.
He said Apapa residents are tired of complaining or talking to the press on issues bordering on the Apapa/Oshodi Expressway and the Ijora/Apapa road.
Many of the enlightened port users who spoke to Business Hilights wondered why it had difficult for successive Ministers of Works to fix the roads upon the truth that the Federal Government through the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) earned about $10 billion from the Lagos ports between 2006 and last year.
Explaining more, President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Prince Olayiwola Shittu, said the revenue excludes the over N150 billion collected from the Lagos Port Complex (LPC) and Tin-Can Island Port by several government agencies including the Customs.
Not up to five per cent of port users felt or agreed that the ports had been passing through reforms as always claimed by all federal agencies in maritime sector because reforms to them means ease of doing business at the ports and nothing more.