A few days to assume office as the governor of the commercial city of Lagos Babajide Sanwo-Olu said he
will end unending gricklock in Apapa within 60 days, The Punch reported.
Apapa has been a notorious area for gricklock for many years. Apapa is where Nigeria’s foremost
seaports are situated. According to an editorial by The Punch in 2018, Apapa is described as the hubbub being fuelled by the grinding traffic and delays arising from inefficient port operations.
A few months back the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry survey — a collaboration with the
Nigerian Economic Summit Group, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria and other OPS outfits — states
that Nigeria loses “about N3.06 trillion (or $10 billion) on non-oil export and about N2.5 trillion
corporate earnings across the sectors annually” to the fiasco. For a country that is barely out of
recession, it is an absurdity.
The report echoes the woeful conditions of the access roads to the Tin Can and Apapa ports. Apart from
factories, bonded terminals and other corporate organisations, 27 tank farms operate there.
This creates traffic lockdown for exporters and importers desirous of meeting deadlines to supply or
take delivery of their products. The residents are not spared the harrowing ordeal either.
Tankers and trailers have hijacked the roads and bridges. Stationary traffic stretches from the ports to
Fadeyi on Ikorodu Road, a distance of about 20.8 kilometres.
Five thousand tankers/trailers invade Apapa daily for business, the report says. Every effort by the
government to end the bottleneck has failed woefully, principally because the roads are decrepit and
observance of the law is in breach.
As at the time of the survey, cargo dwell time at the ports increased to 22 days. This is against the global
best business practices in the maritime trade, as it is the longest in the West Africa sub-region.
Comparatively, the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Organisation says that cargo dwell time in Togo is nine days;
14 days in Benin Republic; and 15 days in Ghana.
“With a capacity of 3 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent units (which is far less than South Africa’s volume
of 5.5 million TEUs), the Nigeria Customs Service should have realised as much as N1.25 trillion as
against the N692 billion it made from 1.5 million TEUs in 2017,” the report states.
The gricklock causes massive economic and job losses. For instance, 25 per cent of perishable products
like cashew, which was being exported to Vietnam in 2017, rotted away after overstaying for weeks at
the ports. For employment, it is disastrous: the Lagos ports employ about 35,000 workers; in South
Africa, 700,000 people are employed at its ports. Industrial capacity utilisation, which stood at 53-60 per
cent in 2015, declined to 38-40 per cent in 2017.
Speaking on the abnormaly, Sanwo-Olu promised that He said not minding the politics involved, he
would rid the area of all the trailers whose operations have been responsible for the intractable gridlock.
He said this during an interactive session with his classmates at the Executive Master of Business
Administration class, University of Lagos, 1998/2000 set, where they asked him specific questions and
his plans about them.
One of the questions was what he would do about the trailers causing the gridlock in Apapa.
Taking on the issue, Sanwo-Olu promised that within the first 60 days in office, he would rid Apapa of
“The Apapa trailer issue; it’s a campaign issue; it’s very serious; I’m going to take it very seriously.
“I believe that it is something that we are going to solve in the first 60 days of our government.
Whatever is going to be required of us, we will take them out.
“There is a lot of politics being played around there. But no, it cannot be the way we’ll continue to live.
We cannot continue to give excuses," The Punch quoted him as saying.
Proferring a solution, Sanwo-Olu said his administration would develop the Badagry Port, to diffuse the
pressure on the Apapa Port.
If he fulfilled his promise, he would be the first Lagos governor to solve one major problem in the most
populous city in Nigeria. That may be his major achievement.
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