Home Maritime Digest Maritime Stakeholders applauds Powerful Pen Media Chapel of NUJ Lagos for consistent...

Maritime Stakeholders applauds Powerful Pen Media Chapel of NUJ Lagos for consistent intervention on maritime issues

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… as the chairman of Bonntex Nigeria Ltd blames cabals for Apapa

by Omenihu Alfred fibmn (MAJAN MEMBER)

The stakeholders of the maritime industry have raised kudos for the journalists of the Powerful pen media Chapel for the recent successful congress on the theme, ‘Apapa Traffic and Skyrocketing inflation in the country, effects on port operations and the maritime industry.

Speaking at the congress, Chief Boniface Okoye, the chairman of Bonntex Nigeria limited revealed that the cabal in the maritime transport system should be held responsible for the hike in transportation. According to him, the truck owners and the truck drivers do not even know how much that is being paid and the shippers’ council equally do not know what they are there for.

Continuing, he charged the federal government to mandate the shipping companies to provide their holding-bays else withhold their license. He explained that the port concession which was started by Obasanjo’s administration was mainly to decongest the port. The private concessioners’ instead of providing their own private ports embarked on gate installation within the port. According to him the gates used to be 12 but they are more than 16 at the moment. He stated that until they go back and do the right thing Port decongestion will not be achieved.

“The gridlock in Apapa will continue in as much as the federal government and the regulatory bodies lack the political will to sanction the shipping companies on holding-bays for empty containers. Again the traffic regulators are not helping matters with their indiscriminate extortions” he concluded.

Reacting to the state of transport in the industry, Alhaji Inua, the PRO of Council of maritime transport union and Association mentioned that the covid 19 and the endsars saga have their own effects on the hike of transportation especially the endsars which was characterized by hoodlums and miscreants activities. He said that aside from the trucks that forced themselves into the port, activities were almost crippled within that time. However, he informed the press that transportation has dropped drastically at the moment.
“For instance from Apapa to Surulere that used to be 1.2 million and above is now 350, 000 to 400, 000 naira. From Apapa to kano or Kaduna is within the range of 1m currently. “All depends on the weight of the container,” he said.

Speaking on the holding-bays, the spokesman of the Council of maritime transport union and Association revealed that they have appealed to NPA and Shippers council to mandate shipping companies to start receiving empty containers in their holding-bays or else if they ask for more charges they will not comply. Again, the union is using the process to start picketing shipping companies that are not leaving up to expectations.

Speaking at the congress, the Chairman of the Tincan Port Chapter, National Council of Managing Directors of customs licensed Agents, Alhaji Isa Kazeem appreciated the powerful pen media chapel for always being at the forefront of reporting issues that are hindering the progress of the maritime industry.
He further informed that Apapa and Tincan are the two most vibrant ports in Nigeria and yet they don’t have the needed access road for effective operations. The outspoken industry leader opened up that the gridlock in Apapa is man-made and the poor traffic control contributes to why Nigerian ports are the most expensive within the West African sub-region.

“This implies that at the end all these hikes on container movement, all the cost will be transferred to the masses who are the final consumers and this has continued to cause inflation in the general economy”

Be it as it may, Apapa, Lagos gridlock has really established as one of the most reported headlines in the Nigerian maritime system, and as at the time of this report, it seems to have defiled all remedies and proven insurmountable. Lots of reports have tagged it as a nightmare, incubus, epilates, torment, curse, bogey, hell, misery, agony, torture, bête noire to mention but a few.

The established presidential task force came in but failed and at a time stakeholders called for the removal of the Presidential Task Force and unregistered truck owners in Apapa over alleged consistent exploitations of truck drivers before they are allowed to gain access into the Tin Can Island port and Apapa port. Again, the call for proper restructuring of the traffic management system at the ports to ease movement was equally not heeded to.

More so, for the fact that the recent presidential order to decongest Apapa promptly failed to bring succour to the troubled port community merely confirmed our fears that mere orders cannot solve the traffic gridlock in Apapa without considering the fundamental issues of critical infrastructure in the quagmire. Aside from the recent presidential order, we all are aware of similar top-level government orders issued by both the Federal and Lagos State governments that fizzled out without result.

Come to think of it, this Endemic traffic crisis which affects most areas of Lagos was one of the major factors that forced the Federal Government’s decision in 1976 to relocate Nigeria’s capital to Abuja and finally, the relocation took place in December 1991. Funny enough nothing seems to have improved 30 years after. Federal Government then under the Head of State, General Murtala Mohammed who proclaimed Abuja as the nation’s capital promised that Lagos would remain a Federal Territory and ‘‘Special Area’’ that would continue to attract substantial investment because of the national security assets in the state including federal roads and the seaports. The question is what has become of all those promises owing to what we are facing now. It becomes even more hopeless to note that politicians don’t care about these tormenting problems as they all fly over all the road transportation tragedy. They don’t see the extent of the road infrastructure damage. What a situation!

Apapa-LagosTraffic-gridlock

Everyone at the moment seems to be on a ‘wait and see’ attitude for the miracle that will free Apapa from traffic congestion. But one thing is sure if the political will is there to enforce due process and if undue bureaucracy is frozen, this matter will be a thing of the past. Every journey starts with a step, hence National Impact Magazine believes that above every other thing, It is only in freeing the access roads and establishment of a functional rail system that sanity will return to Apapa.