More traffic pains as FG shuts Wharf – Apapa road for 12 months
…Restriction will cripple economy, OPS warns
By Kingsley Adegboye & Franklin Alli
lagos—Motorists plying the ever busy Wharf road, Apapa, Lagos will from this week experience increased traffic pain, as the Federal Government weekend announced restriction of vehicular movement on the road to allow for 12 months reconstruction work which commences this week.
However, the restriction has been condemned by members of the organised private sector (OPS), who warned that it will cripple the economy.
Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola announced the restriction of vehicular movement on the road at the official flag off of the road project at a meeting with stakeholders.
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He said the project, which is expected to be completed in 12 months, would be funded by AGDangote, Flour Mills of Nigeria and NPA.
Fashola noted that commencement of work on the ever busy road is billed to begin this week, adding that it was the first intervention of the Federal Government to ease gridlock on the road caused by potholes, poor drainage system and indiscriminate parking by trucks/tankers’ drivers.
He pointed out that the reconstruction works which begin from NPA to the base of Marine Bridge, would be concrete based, with a 30-year design life span.
The Minister who equally hinted that the federal government would soon intervene in the reconstruction of Tin-Can Coconut axis of the Apapa/Oshodi Expressway and Creek Road, said with the breakdown of the 2017 budget expected to be made known this week, it is hoped that federal government’s intervention in the axis will soon begin, as the budget covers the area.
Fashola said that having got the approval and certification from the federal government, the reconstruction of the road had been handed over to AGDangote Construction Limited.
He therefore appealed to members of the public, especially commuters and other road users in the area to bear with government during the reconstruction of the road.
He also urged companies and owners of trucks and tankers using Apapa-Wharf Road as a parking facility to leave, saying President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered 24 hours port operation. He disclosed that the Federal Road Safety Corps, Lagos State Transportation Management Authority LASTMA, and Police will be on ground to control traffic during the period of the project.
Honourable Adviser to the President of Dangote Group,Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Engr. Joseph Makoju, Chief Executive of Officer of Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc, Mr. Paul Gbededo and Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority, Ms. Hadza Bala Usman witnessed the handing over of the road to AGDangote.
Makoju, who was former NEPA managing Director, while commending the Federal Government for its intervention on the road, called on the government to work harder in creating an enabling environment for the private sector to thrive at the Port, saying that if businesses were thriving at the Port, operators could do more to assist the federal government in infrastructure provision in Apapa area.
According to Makoju, Dangote Group company took cognizance of the fact that government alone cannot do all infrastructure, hence Dangote’s higher-level CRS in the area of major infrastructure has come into play in this project.
Mr. Paul Gbededo of Flour Mills of Nigeria, solicited the cooperation of all stakeholders for successful completion of the road project.
Restriction will cripple economy-OPS
Reacting to the proposed restriction of vehicular movement on the road, the Organised Private Sector, OPS, yesterday, applauded the Federal Government’s response to fix the access roads to the Lagos ports, but warned that total shutdown of the road for one year will cripple the economy.
According to President of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), , Dr. Frank Udemba Jacobs, and Muda Yusuf, Director General , Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, LCCI, the poor states of the roads requires urgent reconstruction and called on the government to create an alternative routes for traffic diversion instead of total shut down for 12 months.
Jacobs said: “It is my hope that they must create alternative route; we need the road to be rebuild because of its poor conditions; the kind of road they want to build is welcomed, it is good for the economy and manufacturing, we can’t dictate to them how long the construction should last but we feel that the shorter the duration, the better for all stakeholders.
“Instead of total shut down for twelve months, government should consider these two options: 1, divert ship or cargos to other ports throughout the duration of the construction , and 2, close one side of the road for six months and when you finish it, open it and start work on the other lane,” he said.
Corroborating to this, Muday Yusuf, added: “LCCI, commends moves by the government to reconstruct the road. The ports account for about 70 per cent of the total revenue generation from import duties in the country. The pace of cargo evacuation is being affected by the state of the roads. This in turn results in high demurrage charges, high rental costs by the terminal operators and high cost of freight. However they should create alternate route so that there won’t be complete shutdown of businesses to and from the ports.
“They (government) can’t afford to shutdown the ports; it is not practical, the shock on the economy will be much,” he said.
According to him, LCCI wants government to create alternative routes and even direct use of rail to drag out containers outside the ports to where they are needed. We should avoid a total shutdown of the port; it will cripple the entire economy,” he warned.