The planned closure of the Marine Bridge and Wharf Road in Apapa, Lagos concurrently from next week will spell doom for the nation’s seaports.
Dangote A.G. recently announced plans to close both sides of the Wharf Road inward and outward Apapa while the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing also announced plans to shut the Marine Bridge in Apapa for permanent repairs.
Adedamola Kuti, Federal Controller of Works, Lagos, while speaking in Lagos on Sunday said Julius Berger Plc., the contractor handling the bridge repair was ready to move to site.
But speaking in Lagos on Wednesday, the Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN) said the simultaneous closure of the Wharf Road and the Marine Bridge would lead to a buildup of cargo inside the port and lead to port congestion.
“While we commend the efforts of the Federal Government to address the issue of bad roads and the poor state of the bridge, the closure of both roads at about the same time will cause serious problem to the ports especially the Lagos Port Complex, Apapa and the Tin Can Island Port.
“The bridge and the Wharf Road are the two major entry points into Apapa and shutting both down will mean cargoes will be trapped inside the port.
“The implication of this is that there will be build up of cargoes at the various terminals and port congestion will inevitably set in.
“In no time, vessel queues will return and Nigerian ports run the risk of returning to the point where they were prior to port concession.
“Once vessel queues return, shipping lines congestion surcharge, which could amount to as much as $100 million per month could be slammed on Nigerian ports and this cost will ultimately be borne by the market,” STOAN said in a statement signed by its spokesman, Bolaji Akinola.
Akinola said the repairs should be done one after the other and alternative routes should be opened up by Dangote A.S. and Julius Berger before any of the routes is shut.
“The road remains the major route by which cargoes are evacuated from the port. Failure to create alternative routes before the major repair works are embarked upon will create major crisis in the port,” the statement further said.
STOAN said that already, the poor state of the roads, especially the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway and ongoing repair works on a section of the Wharf Road has created major challenges for port operation leading to gridlock, which has led to a near paralysis of movement into and out of Apapa.