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Dearth of infrastructure outside ports killing facility upgrade by concessionaires—Russo

The managing director of PTML Terminal in Tincan Island Port, Apapa, Ascanio Russo, has made a touching revelation on the causes of endless traffic gridlocks along all port access roads in Lagos.
In an interview, he “The level of infrastructure around the port areas have not moved at the same pace with the level of development inside the ports, and this is why we are now experiencing this crisis around the port areas”.
He said even though port concessionaires have made unprecedented investments in infrastructure upgrade, the dearth of public utilities like bad roads and others have made nonsense of their investments inside the ports.
Giving an emphasis on the activities of his company in raising the infrastructural base of facilities met on ground in 2006 when PTML won the concession, he said “The private terminal operators brought significant investments and in those investments, a much higher level of productivity and efficiency”.
“The turnaround time of the ships has improved dramatically, and even the management of the terminals has improved very significantly. This means that as a result of this improvement, the volume of cargoes which the ports, especially Lagos, could have increased many folds because of the efficiency that was brought by the terminal operators.
“At the same time also, the governmental agencies, they upped their game, mainly Customs for example, there was a significant process of digitalisation, and now many operations that were managed manually are done electronically.
On the state of affairs in the ports, he said made it clear that whereas the concessionaires’ were stepping up infrastructural base of terminals to make business at ports seamless, commensurate investments in road infrastructures were not made so as to match what terminal operators had put in place at ports.
Russo recalled that “I guess that you are aware of the chaos around the port and all the terrible conditions of all the roads leading to the port areas, be it TinCan Island or the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway. I mean there is no significant work being done there.
“It’s very sad in a way because while the port operators have invested in the ports, and as a result have been able to increase the capacity inside the ports, most of the infrastructure around the ports have not been upgraded.
“That is why we are now experiencing this complete chaos, because basically, the roads have fallen apart, and accessing the port area is really becoming a nightmare.
“But this is not the only factor because if you look at the congestion around the port area, it’s as a result of many causes, not only infrastructure. There is also the condition of the vehicles, the condition of the trucks accessing the port areas. If you look at the trucks coming to the ports, you are looking at vehicles which are maybe 40 to 50 years old, and they are falling apart all the time.
“This is part of the industry that is highly fragmented, and so it is difficult to interact with the players of the industry. We are not talking of the big haulage companies, which you can easily talk to and try to coordinate the moment cargoes go in and out of the port,” PTML boss averred.