The Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria says it has invested N538bn in port development from 2006, when the ports were concessioned, to December 2017.
STOAN’s spokesman, Dr. Bolaji Akinola, made the point in a statement on Monday.
He said the ports had become more efficient than before they were concessioned.
On the traffic chaos on the axis, he said those who thrive on it desperately want to cast aspersion on the concession exercise, because orderliness does not benefit their pockets.
“Ports concession has endured and it is the most successful privatisation exercise of the Nigerian government. Port terminal operators have done very well; if not for them our ports would have since gone into a meltdown. We were all witnesses to the inefficiency and chaos in the ports before concession,” Akinola said.
He added, “The Federal Government’s revenue from the ports has more than tripled 15 years post- ports concession. Port workers’ welfare has been enhanced significantly, and they are now among the best paid workers in the country.
“We have since addressed the chaos inside the ports, but those who profit at the expense of Nigerians have moved the chaos to the roads. Unfortunately, we have no control over the roads.”The STOAN image-maker reiterated that port terminals across the country are well organised and professionally coordinated by port operators, otherwise known as concessionaires.
The major challenges facing port operations in the country, he noted, are the dilapidated access roads, poor traffic management and manual examination of cargo by the customs.
According to Akinola, terminal operators, like other business entities in Apapa, are victims of the “dysfunctional state and chaos” on the port access roads.
His words, “The port terminals are well organised and efficient. Concessionaires have done very well to ensure efficiency in their various terminals. The major problem is the road.
“Terminal operators do not have any role to play or responsibility to bear on the road. We don’t own the road; we don’t control the roads; and we don’t control happenings on the road. We cannot control the security agencies saddled with the responsibility of managing traffic on the road.”
The STOAN executive said terminal operators, more than any other entity in the logistics chain, bear the brunt of the Apapa traffic congestion, which, he added, hampers the evacuation of cargo from the port.
“The business of terminal operators is to keep trade moving. We don’t make money from cargo sitting at the terminal. Our profitability is in the volume of cargo we handle so it is in our best interest for cargo to leave the port as soon as possible.
“Unfortunately, those who profit from the chaos on the road make it difficult for trucks to move freely to evacuate cargo from the port,” he said.
Akinola said the fact that the roads were cleared and rid of the notorious traffic anytime President Muhammadu Buhari visits Lagos “shows that security operatives know what to do to deliver us all from the pains we suffer daily from the gridlock.”
“In 2019, when the President visited Lagos, the otherwise intractable Apapa gridlock disappeared. The gridlock also disappeared on June 10, 2021 when he visited to commission the rail line and the Deep Blue project.
“It was not terminal operators that cleared the road; it was the same security operatives that manned the road that cleared it. How did they make it happen? Can they continue to do on a daily basis, what they did on the two occasions of Mr. President’s visits?” he queried.
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