The Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers Council, NSC, Hassan Bello, has said that the Federal Government is focused on eliminating gridlock along the Apapa port axis in the next three months.
Bello who disclosed this at the Council's appreciation night in Lagos last week, said that the issue of traffic congestion at Apapa will soon be resolved because of the commitments the various stakeholders made at the meetings they have been holding on the issue.
According to him the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, shipping companies, terminal operators, the truckers and others are working closely with the presidential task force to ensure that the problem is resolved.
Giving further details on the developments Bello hinted of the several sacrifices the stakeholders are set to make which include that the truckers will have to lower their astronomical cost to between N30,000 to N50,000; the NPA will also review their holding bay policy, Shipping companies will not collect demurrage for three months and so on.
He also hinted that the Federal Government will be connecting the port with the rail transportation so that there will be evacuation of cargo by rail.
Meanwhile Bello said that with the Apapa port road reconstruction by Dangote Group, stakeholders should expect easing of the problematic traffic situation in three months.
He stated: "The traffic situation is a temporary thing; the federal government is well focused on removing the issues of gridlock along Apapa. There are short, medium and long time measures. The issue of Apapa traffic will soon be resolved. On Thursday (two weeks ago) we had several meetings, everybody is going to make sacrifices.
"The terminal operators are going to make sacrifice, the shipping companies will not charge demurrage for about three months and the truckers will lower their astronomical cost. They are going to lower their cost to N30,000 to N50,000. The NPA will also review its holding bay policy and the task force that is headed by the Navy is also considering various ways of looking at these things.
"So, the Federal Government is connecting the port with rail transportation so that there will be evacuation of cargo by rail. We depend only on one mode of transport and that is the road transport and this does not give a solution".
He also added that the roads are blocked because everybody is rushing to offload their containers and this is because they want to apply for their demurrage. He said that the call up system has been fine-tuned, such that they would not have everybody trying to offload containers at the same time as this could lead to chaos.
In his words, "The idea is that the road is blocked because everybody is rushing to offload the containers so that demurrage will not apply, so when you have a call up system why the rush? It will be taken easily and if you have a container to return, you will relax, you now take your time because it is only when you are called up by the system that you will be allowed access to the port".