The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, on Thursday in Lagos called for the collaboration of all stakeholders to tackle traffic gridlock, port congestion and other problems in Apapa and its environs.
Fashola made the call at a stakeholders meeting on the ongoing Apapa Wharf Road reconstruction project in Surulere.
The stakeholders at the meeting included the three financiers of the project, AG Dangote Construction Company Ltd, Flour Mills of Nigeria Ltd and Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).
Others were National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO) and National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), among others.
The stakeholders, after extensive deliberations, agreed to resolve issues of logistics and regulation of truckers and port operations.
They called on shipping companies to return to the system of using their loading bays and effective call-up systems to end port congestions.
They also advised AP Molar Multi-Terminal (APMT), whose cargo operations take hours to emulate the operations of Port Terminal Multipurpose Ltd (PTML) who have perfected the act of evacuating cargo within minutes.
They agreed that emergency interventions should be carried out on the roads around Coconut bus stop area and some other bad portions.
They resolved to have another inclusive meeting to carry Shippers, government regulatory agencies and other stakeholders who were absent at the gathering along to evolve permanent solutions,
Fashola advised the stakeholders to organise forums where they could proffer solution to the problems and make recommendations to government to speed up solutions on various issues.
The minister stressed the need to put other ports in the country to use to reduce pressure on the two major ports in Apapa and promised to work with his transport counterpart, Mr Rotimi Amechi, to involve the rail sector in finding solutions.
He called for sacrifice on the part of the various stakeholders as the Yuletide season is approaching to ensure a speedy solution to all the problems.
“During this period when everybody is sacrificing something, let us sacrifice, it is an exchange, everybody must sacrifice.
“This is not about us, it is about everybody,” he told stakeholders.
He explained that procurement process for the Oshodi Tin Can Island road was ongoing.
Earlier, Fashola had inspected ongoing rehabilitation works at Costain and its environs, which he told journalists was to ensure smooth roads during the festive period.
Honorary adviser to the Dangote Group, Mr Joseph Makoju said that Dangote was handling and co-funding the Apapa Wharf Road reconstruction project as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
Makoju said that it was painful that the project was being misunderstood by both the public and a section of the media who make negative remarks against the Dangote Group instead of commending it for giving back to society.
He explained that the Dangote Group also suffered from the problems of gridlock and other problems caused by port congestions as it affected their businesses and operations as well.
He added that the company was ready to tackle all problems that related to the construction raised at the forum and deliver the project within one year.
“We give our assurances that we will deliver and we need your understanding,” he said.
Mr Ashif Juma, Managing Director AG Dangote Construction Company Ltd, contractors handling the project said that there was the massive deployment of men and equipment to site as the rainy season ended adding that by November significant visible progress would be seen in the construction.
Juma explained that it was not easy to work on old roads because some unexpected problems usually came up in the midst of the project.
He added that the firm was working closely with the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing (FMPW$H) on the project and that work tempo would double in November.
“We will work two shifts seven days a week. We cannot do this work without your help,” he told the other stakeholders.
The NPA on its part promised to begin enforcement of traffic regulations in port areas which include Oshodi, Babs Animashaun, Costain and Ijora Olopa road areas,
Fashola, on June 17 signed the N4.34 billion Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the reconstruction of the four kilometres Apapa Wharf road with AG Dangote Construction Company Ltd and other companies.
The project is being funded by AG Dangote Construction Company Ltd, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and Flour Mills of Nigeria.