Work begins on Apapa-Oworonshoki Expressway next week

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Olalekan Adetayo, Abuja

The President, Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, on Tuesday, disclosed that reconstruction work would start on the Apapa-Oworonshoki Expressway next week.

Dangote said this in an interview with State House correspondents after a meeting stakeholders around Apapa had with Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The meeting was meant to resolve the gridlock around the Apapa area.

“Work on the Apapa-Oworonshoki way is going to start next week. Everything, including the design, has been handed over. We will start work next week.

“The bidding process is going to go on, where four, five contractors will bid. Anybody that wins the contract, we will fund the project under the agreement that we have,” the business mogul said.

Upon completion, Dangote believed the government would be able to save a lot of money.

He put the current economic loss, occasioned by the traffic bottlenecks along the road, at over N10bn daily.

He said, “You have to understand that Apapa and Tin Can Island Ports handle about 80 per cent of the cargoes that come into Nigeria.

“As we speak, some of our ships are waiting to come in from Lome and discharge. It is not because we don’t have anywhere to berth the ship but because all our operations are choked up because we have containers, general cargoes that have actually been there and we are not able to remove.

“But I am more worried about the smaller operators because for those that have imported, the charges are accumulating every day. Transport charge has almost doubled.”

Dangote described the government’s decision to decongest the ports as the right one.

He expressed the hope that Nigerians would begin to a see a massive change by next week.

Although he said his firm was still working on the cost of the road, he expressed the hope that it would be the cheapest road to be built.

The Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority, Hadiza Usman, said stakeholders agreed that the major challenge around the Apapa area was road.

She described the access to the Apapa and Tin Can areas as very bad.

Usman stated, “We have noted that there is a need to move empty containers out of that location.

“So, we have received clear directives that all empty containers need to be taken to holding bays. Shipping companies cannot have ports locations within the ports anymore; so, that will free a lot of traffic within the area.

“We have also noted the need for all tank farms owners to comply with the utilisation of holding bays. No more approvals of tank farms will be permitted within the Apapa area any longer.

“There is also full commitment of Dangote to complete the reconstruction of Apapa Wharf Road by June, 2018; but alternative works will commence within the immediate period for Tin Can Island.”

The NPA boss added, “There is decisive effort by the Vice-President, giving clear directives on the need for us to conclude reconstruction. The trailer park on Tin Can Island will also be reconstructed within three months so that we can have access to holding bays and trailer parks.

“The NPA is also licensing access to the trailer parks and port allocations.  We are issuing advertisements, seeking expression of interests of some private sectors to operate some trailer parks and holding bays within the Tin Can Island area.

“We are embarking on that within the shortest period and we appeal to the exporters to work with us in traffic management. We are instituting strong task force that will manage the traffic inflow and outflow within the Apapa and Tin Can Island and environs.

“This is an emergency for us and that is why we are here today to address these issues.  We have seen the commitment from the Ministry of Works and the NPA will give support in any way we can.”

The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, said the highlight of the meeting was to appropriately define the problem which essentially was a port management challenge that had been compounded by the conditions of the road.

The minister added, “The conclusions are essentially to accelerate first palliative repair of the Tin Can bound section of the road with Liverpool Road, while the procurement being undertaking with the Dangote Group is finalised. Some relief will be provided pending when we finalise procurement.

“Also to improve traffic management, there in consultation with the NPA and to ensure that some of the persons, posing as military task force there, are disbanded because we have allegations that some of them collect money to ferry trucks through to the gate and that is why the Minister of Defence is here.

“We also have private businessmen who have also offered to help fund some of the projects that are stuck in procurement like completing the Apapa Wharf terminal and complete some sections of the road. So we will conclude all of that in a wholistic way subject to procurement board.

“Essentially, this is to show that we hear the discomfort of the people of Apapa, truck owners, exporters, importers. Work is ongoing on the first two-kilometre section; we will look at the roads leading out of Apapa, Ijora, Costain, to see that some repair works are also done.

“We don’t like the inconvenience, what it portends for the economy and for jobs and we will solve it.

“The relief is to first make other sections of the road motorable through Tin Can to give relief to the municipal Apapa area while still working on procurement.”

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