Senators have joined the growing complaint over the Apapa, Lagos gridlock.
The Senate Committee on Marine Transport, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), the Nigerian Chamber of Shipping and others are worried over the Apapa gridlock, which has cost huge losses to businesses and brought pains to motorists.
At a meeting in Lagos, they said bad roads were killing trade. They frowned at the decision of Julius Berger Plc, which is handling the rehabilitation of Apapa roads, to close the Ijora Bridge, a major artery to Apapa Port and Tin Can Island Port, for four months.
The committee plans to summon the company’s officials to justify the closure, which will worsen the gridlock.
A member of the committee, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa, responding to some complaints, said it was in contact with the construction giant and monitoring the road rehabilitation contracts in Apapa.
According to him, the committee will hold a meeting with top management of the company. But with the level of the people’s suffering, the committee is left with no option than to summon the company to explain why the bridge should be shut for such a long time.
“We are taking so many things away from this engagement today; one of them is the closure of the Ijora Bridge. We are scheduled to meet with the management of Julius Berger sometime in January, but as things stand, we will invite them next week to explain to us the reason for the closure of such an important artery to the seaports. We did not know about it before now”, Ohuabunwa said.
Former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President and pioneer President of the Nigerian Chamber of Shipping Dr. Olisa Agbakoba decried the situation in Apapa.
He said it took about five hours to access their offices in Apapa because of the closure of the bridge, despite that the Wharf Road has been completed.
“We are dying gradually in Apapa and I am telling you the truth. People stay on the gridlock for hours and when you get to your office after several hours, one becomes useless, having spent the better part of the day in the traffic”, he had said.
Chairman of the committee Senator Ahmed Sani said the gathering was to bring the parliament to the stakeholders, brief them on what had been done and take their input to lay a foundation for maritime development.
He told the stakeholders that several maritime legislations had been passed with some at various stages of passage. They include the Anti-Terrorism Bill, National Inland Authority Amendment Bill, National Transport Commission NTC Bill, the Nigerian Ports Authority Amendment Bill, he said, adding that law making is a long and painstaking process.
NIMASA Director-General Dr. Dakuku Peterside said the committee members displayed a high level of patriotism, placing national interest over personal or any other interest.
Speaking with The Nation on the sideline of the event, Peterside said the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration was determined to fix ports’ infrastructure to revamp the economy.
NIMASA, according to him, is not happy that some measures adopted so far have not yielded the expected result. He promised what he called positive action soon.
Peterside said the quick rehabilitation of the road from Tin-Can Island Port to Oworonsoki area of Lagos was to salvage the economy.
He applauded Dangote Construction Nigeria Limited and Flour Mills Nigeria Limited for reconstructing Wharf Road.
Peterside appealed to the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, to ensure that the Tin Can Island Port Road was completed on time and to hasten the usage of the trailer park opposite the port.
He urged truck drivers and port users to submit to security checks at the gates into the ports, warning unauthorised truck drivers to stay off the ports and Apapa or face sanctions.