A seasonal drop in importation after the usual end of year rush may see a significant easing of the traffic gridlock on the port access roads in Lagos.
This is due to a corresponding reduction in the number of trucks that will be calling at the ports. It is expected January will usher in the usual drop as importers reduce the tempo of importation after the end of year rush.
For Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria, it is a respite they expect the contractors handling the rehabilitation of the access roads to up their game and increase their efforts.
According to the STOAN chairman, Princess Vicky Haastrup, the reduction of the gridlock is not because any significant measure has been taken to address the cause of the problem, but due to an anticipated drop in importation.
“The last quarter of every year usually marks the peak of importation activities at the ports. Now that the 2017 importation peak season is over, the number of trucks coming to the ports is expected to reduce, thereby providing temporary relief to road users,” a statement from the group quoted her as saying.
She said the situation, however, meant less cargoes and less volume for the ports, especially in the first quarter of this year, adding that the off-peak period provided an opportunity for the federal and Lagos State governments to address the root cause of the gridlock.
“The reasons for the gridlock are along two major lines. One is that there is a proliferation of petroleum tankers due to the preponderance of fuel tank farms and petroleum depots in the Apapa community. This is an anomaly, which should urgently be corrected by the Federal Government.
“The correction is to facilitate the distribution of petroleum products through pipelines and not using trucks. Also, once the government can get the refineries working, there will no longer be the need for tank farms in Apapa, which attract these trucks.
“The other reasons for the gridlock are the dilapidated state of roads leading into and out of Apapa as well as the absence of truck parks,” Haastrup said.
She expressed hope that “government can address these by taking advantage of the off-peak season to intensify road rehabilitation works and making relevant provision for truck holding bays before the next cycle of high level activities sets in.
“There is also an opportunity to begin the implementation of the much touted truck call up system to ensure that only trucks that have business to do at the ports are granted access into Apapa.”
Haastrup urged the Federal Government to review its tariff policy on some imported items, including vehicles, rice and fish, to reduce smuggling.