By DAPO OLAWUNI
Following the perennial traffic gridlock and the attendant port congestion that has bedeviled Lagos seaports, there has been an increase in the use of barges for taking delivery of cargoes and retuning empty containers to the port.
This development has equally led to some smart Nigerians converting their private properties into jetties and terminals where they now receive the barges and containers for onward movement to the final destination.
Such private properties and jetties according to DAILY TREND NEWS findings liter the entire Ikorodu axis of Lagos, as well as Apapa Creek road in Lagos. At such facilities, barges are berthed, offloaded and the trucks take the containers. This is done to avoid the traffic in Apapa.
Speaking with our correspondent, President General of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) Comrade Abdulwaheed Adeyanju raised an alarm that this practice is an illegality and that the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) should launch an immediate investigation and clamp down on these properties.
Adeyanju said that berthing container laden barges at private properties constitutes a high level of security risk because these property do not have presence of government officials or dockworkers.
He argued that the NPA, NIMASA, Nigeria Customs Service and dockworkers are supposed to be at the jetties and terminals.
In an exclusive interview with DAILY TREND NEWS, he said “The government should look inwards and investigate private properties being turned into terminals and jetties, there should be presence of government regulatory agents in that area or else they would turn it into another means of importing dangerous cargoes, we have to be very careful of these jetties”
“If I have a place at Trinity bus stop now and I say I am bringing in barges, who is inspecting the containers? The facility must be inspected and approval must be given to whoever is using it, not that somebody would just turn their private resident to a terminal”
The MWUN PG also said that the use of barges to evacuate cargoes from the port have not really ameliorated the traffic gridlock challenge on Lagos port access roads.
According to him, despite the use of barges, the roads are still littered with trucks bearing empty containers.
“Has that reduced the influx of empty containers on the roads? barges operation is not a new thing to Nigerian port, we have been using it in the olden days when we have congestion, but has it now reduced the influx of empty containers on the road” he said
Recall that the Lagos Port Manager of NPA, Mrs Funmilayo Olotu at a stakeholders meeting organised by the Nigerian Shippers Council in Lagos recently raised similar concerns of private residents of Apapa turning their properties into private jetties where barges are being received.
The NPA manager recounted that there has been an attempt by NPA to inspect such facility but the attempt was met with attacks from the operator.
According to her, when she and her team tried accessing one of the properties on Creek Road in Apapa, they were pelted with stones.