By Richards Adeniyi
The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has promised that the federal government would decentralize the ports to ease the gridlock at Apapa Lagos State, adding that he would personally pursue the approval for the roads leading in and out of the Apapa area.
The vice president added that the federal government has entered into talks with a new contractor for the refurbishment of the narrow gauge rail, which would take some of the containers out of the port area, adding that an earlier arrangement with General Electric (GE) did not yield result.
Osinbajo, who, stated these at the stakeholders meeting held at Western Naval Command, Apapa, noted that the government was taking steps to address the security situation preventing the proper usage of the six ports around the country, in order to ease the traffic gridlock in Lagos.
The vice president in his speech said the federal government has no excuse in the current traffic situation bedeviling Apapa and its environs.
Touching on the issue of bad roads, which was cited by stakeholders as the major cause of the traffic snarl, he said plans had been put in place to ameliorate the situation.
He said the major reason the six ports around the country are presently not used to their full capacity was because of security challenges.
Presently, he said a maritime security arrangement has been approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC), adding that soon security arrangement would be in place to enable the ports become fully functional.
On the repairs of the Apapa road he said the government was working hard to get approval for the repair and rehabilitation of the roads, particularly the Apapa-Oshodi expressway and other roads around the Liverpool, and the Tin Can Island port area.
He said the approval for the rehabilitation of Apapa/Oshodi expressway, which had hitherto being delayed would be secured within two weeks.
Osinbajo said the government has no excuse not to repair the roads in Apapa and that no excuse for its deplorable state is tenable considering the huge revenue being realised from that area.
Also speaking, the Lagos State Governor, Akinwumni Ambode, said the Apapa situation is a national emergency that needs immediate solutions before the long term solutions.
On the approval to kick-start construction, he said: “I was once a civil servant and I know how we push things if we want result.”
As one of the immediate solutions to the crisis, he called on the relevant agencies to open up the additional two gates leading in and out of the ports.
He said: “From intelligence gathered, Customs only operates on one gate and there are three gates at the port. “This issue is not within my jurisdiction; so, I will plead with the NPA, Ministry of Transportation and Customs to do something about that.”