…Dangote, Flour Mills and FG raise N4.34bn
There have been signals that the suspended strike action by major business operators at the Lagos ports including Apapa and Tincan may be resumed very soon as the fresh 21 days ultimatum given to the federal government closes in without any sign of repairs.
However, the signals seem to have been punctured weekend with the signing of a new contract deal brokered by the Minister of Power, Works and Housing brokered, Mr. Babatunde Fashola to reconstruct the Apapa Port exit road onward Ijora, but there is no plan yet for the intractable Coconut-Tincan Island Port-down to Apapa Port axis.
Going by the new contract, a section of the Apapa Wharf will be shut down for one-year to enable its construction.
Fashola, said this at the official signing of Memorandum of Understanding and handing over of the project to the sponsors.
The N4.34bn project is jointly sponsored by Dangote, Flour Mills companies and Federal Government.
The two kilometres road construction between the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) and end of the bridge is expected to take one-year starting from Saturday.
He explained that the use of AG Dangote for the construction was to give the road a better outlook with the use of concrete.
According to the minister, the construction is to resolve the challenges usually encountered on the road.
While commending the sponsors of the project, the minister appealed to road users and stakeholders to persevere.
He said, “We are embarking on what will be the final solution to the massive inconvenience. Businesses and residents in Apapa and its environment have had to endure for a couple of years.
“I like to acknowledge the leadership role of Dangote and Flour Mills who are operators and have also contributed to make this reality. They are doing this as a total Corporate Responsibility without asking for tax holiday or reduction. We are also working on how to ensure free access to Tin Can Island.
“From today that we are handing over the project, the road will take one year to be completed. We need the cooperation of all the stakeholders. There will be some discomfort on the way but we appeal for tolerance and perseverance. It will continue to get better, people should please ensure more to solve the challenge.”
Engr Joseph Makoju from Dangote, said it was co-sponsoring the project to provide an enabling environment for businesses in the area.
He said, “This is part of our CSR. Businesses have to engage the community where they operate. Today’s CSR has gone to a higher level where we find ourselves embarking on a major infrastructural project,” he added.
The Managing Director of Flour Mills, Paul Gbededo, urged the Federal Government to place priority on repairing other sections of Apapa.
He also sought the cooperation of other stakeholders and road users during the construction period.
He said, “Apapa has become a very difficult place to work. With this project that the Federal Government has allowed to embark on, it will give succour to business. It has the biggest port in Nigeria and should not be taken with levity.”
Aside the new deal which details and real time of take off were scantly, checks by Business Hilights on Sunday on the bad roads within the Apapa and environs show that since the suspension of the strike and series of repair assurances given by the government, nothing has happened.
It would be recalled that clearing agents and truckers servicing the two ports had early last month embarked on total withdrawal of services and businesses at both ports in protest to the poor condition of all the access roads.
A top official of one of the unions who spoke to Business Hilights on phone on Sunday said “Apart from having lost confidence on all the agencies at the ports who came out to assure us that work will begin very soon, this is getting to three weeks after we suspended our strike, there is nothing on ground to show seriousness on the side of the government in effecting the needed repairs”.
Explaining more on grounds of anonymity, the official averred that “As you know, we have been losing serious money in man hours using the port access roads and we have been quick in our taxes obligations, the government and mainly the maritime agencies are seeing us as not good partners.
“We will soon meet to review the state of the roads and then take the final decision for the mother of all service withdrawal because the federal government has not truly shown are seriousness in doing the access roads.
It would be recalled that whereas the NPA gave the highest assurance on the quick response to the road,Fashola dropped a bomb, saying the roads will need an average of N100bn to do the needed reconstruction.
But the minister of transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi in another interview, opened up on the true confusion frustrating the fixing of the port access roads.
He said there is serious misunderstanding and confusion on the side of the government bordering on which particular federal ministry that will fix the roads.
However, with the recent deal brokered by Fashola, it seems the crisis of who should do the road may have been put to rest as port users wait and see real take off of construction activities.