Chairman, Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), Princess Vicky Haastrup, has called on the Federal Government to urgently deploy traffic and security officials “in large numbers” to ensure free flow of traffic in Apapa during the repair of the Ijora-Wharf Road.
Haastrup said the failure of government to deploy a large number of traffic officials to ensure free flow of traffic during the closure of the Wharf Road is “recipe for chaos”.
She said, “This is not a matter that should be treated lightly at all. While we commend the Nigerian Ports Authority and the private sector for the repair of the severely damaged Ijora-Wharf Road, we must emphasize the need to ensure free flow of traffic while the repair lasts.
“We have noticed that anytime a section of the road is closed, everywhere is clogged. The entire port environment is paralysed.
“This has a telling effect on the port because what then happens is that truck, which are inside the port, will not be able to come out and if they do not come out to free the space inside the various terminals, trucks on the road will not be able to go in and that is how the chaos builds,” she said.
Princess Haastrup said the situation can be brought under control by deploying security and traffic control officials to work in shifts to ensure round the clock traffic flow.
“The control has to happen 24 hours a day to ensure free flow of traffic. Security operatives must also be deployed to support the traffic control officers at all times.
“If we do not ensure free flow of traffic while the road repair lasts, port congestion might be inevitable. Port congestion is certainly not what Nigeria can afford at this difficult economic times. Port congestion will result in vessel queues – which is already happening – and this comes at a huge cost to the Nigerian economy,” she said.
The STOAN Chairman said there has not bee any form of port congestion since 2006 when the ports were concessioned, and no effort should be spared to ensure that it does not set in at this time.
Hasstrup also said it is wrong to blame any terminal operator for the chaos on the Apapa-Wharf Road, saying terminal operators are also suffering from the effect of the perennial gridlock.
“Terminal operators have nothing to do with the state of the road. If anything, they are the ones supporting government to find solution to the problem.
Many terminal operators have committed enormous resources to provide palliatives on the road to bring succour to road users.
“The closure of a lane of the road is bound to take a toll on traffic flow and that is why an effective traffic management system is the solution to the current gridlock,” she said.
Haastrup also tasked the Federal Government on the development of alternative modes of transport, such as rail and pipeline, to reduce pressure on the roads.
She said that on he long run, there is need to relocate tank farms from Apapa.
“It is wrong to have populated the port environment with such large number of tank farms. It is part of the problem that government should eventually find solution to,” she added.