Transportation

Poor rail connections, others increase gridlock in Apapa– Experts

Experts have blamed poor rail connections, proliferation of tank farms and monomodal means of cargo evacuation from the ports as major causes of the perennial traffic gridlock on the Apapa ports axis.

At a discussion on a social media platform in Lagos, an Assistant General Manager, Nigerian Ports Authority, Ahmed Wanka, explained that the initial plan was for trains to be used for cargo evacuation in Apapa and not roads alone.

He added that the collapse of the rail line had made roads the only means of cargo evacuation.

“While Apapa was planned very well with rail lines as one of the methods of evacuation, the collapse of the national rail system led to this method of evacuation as road haulage became the only means of evacuation. This added an enormous axle road on the road infrastructure that was neither planned nor designed for, which in turn led to the deterioration of the road infrastructure.”

Explaining further, Wanka said that initially TinCan was not meant for ports, blaming the disappearance of national refineries as the reason the axis started receiving massive tank farms.

“Tin Can was essentially meant to serve the light industrial estates in Lagos and complement the industrial growth of the Lagos-Ogun-Oyo economies and complement Apapa as it is aging.

“The death of our national refineries led to the massive importation of refined petroleum products which necessitated developing storage facilities proximate to the port. The proliferation of tank farms within Apapa and Tin Can comes with the need for evacuation. This added the number of tanker trucks on the roads which was unforeseen, unplanned for and deteriorated the road infrastructure substantially. One doesn’t need to be a magician to know that this chaos will create the chaos we witnessed.”

He said, “Port environments are usually planned in such a manner that there are basic and standard infrastructures that are provided, one of which is a standard truck park or parks located in several strategic locations as may be needed. With the collapse of the national rail system and the proliferation of tank farms, one expects that there would definitely be an upsurge in the number of trucks along the port access roads and truck parks would be provided consequentially. However, most truck parks spring up on the same roads, thereby constricting it.”

Also speaking, a barge operator, Mr Nura Wagani, stressed the need to priotise barging for the evacuation of cargoes.

“The port access is not limited to the road alone. We have to make use of all the alternatives as it is practised worldwide. The barge operation is intermodal in nature and has lots of impacts on our transport system.

A former TinCan Island Ports Manager, Abubakar Umar, blamed the introduction of Terminal Delivery Order by terminal operators as another bottleneck hindering free flow of traffic on the axis.

“The logistics of handling delivery of cargo in and out has been muddled up. Trucks going to return empties are made to look for TDO to take delivery. In this process, the trucks will remain on the road waiting for customers. The two are supposed to be seamless. If you are returning empties, drop and go. If you deliver, the flatbed should go to the port and evaluate the container. This is to ensure that the trucks do not turn the road to a park.”

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