The Minister of Transportation, Jaji Sambo, has said that he would not accept another Apapa at the Lekki-Epe axis by way of movement of goods in and out of the port.
He said this at the Maritime Reporters Association of Nigeria, MARAN 34th Anniversary and Awards with the theme: “16 years of Port Concession: The Pains And The Gains, held in Lagos.
Sambo said: “Lekki Deep sea port, I have told them I do not want them to move goods to that port or from that port by road. There is no reason why we should have another Apapa at Lekki-Epe axis, I will not accept it. To start with, we must do barge, let us do barge operations and that would also bring a lot of jobs for people who do barges and people who fabricate barges and others in the chain. At the same time, build capacity for our people.
“I was very sad the day I went to Onne and saw containers being exposed for physical examination. I have visited the Comptroller General of Customs, CG Col. Hameed Ali, (rtd) specifically to appeal to him to help in removing the scanner room because that room is an obstruction to the rail connection into the port. He told me that we were supposed to have made payment to decontaminate the place and then after some time they would come and remove the pavements, I came back to the ministry and made inquiries and was told that the ministry have made that payment long time ago.
“I will go back with evidence to show the CG that payment has been made a long time ago and there is no reason why that building should still be standing, I do not understand how and why in this age we are still moving goods through the road.
“When I was walking with the National Inland Water Ways Authority, NIWA, it used to pain me that the inland waterways transportation mode was never developed.
“Now, I found myself in the driving seat, there are two projects that are close to my heart in the ministry of transportation, the one that is supposed to serve as a hub to Marina when the ship comes into the harbor to do their shipment. The other one is channel management, there is a company with Chinese investors that are willing and have the capacity to manage this channel. I have told my people in the ministry that if I don’t have these two projects off the ground some people are going to cry. I will make examples with some people if these two projects do not take off next year.
“So when we provide the alternatives then we can now tell the haulage people that you can no longer take petroleum products by road, you can no longer take cement by road, and our roads would even last longer. The carnage on our roads as a result of these articulated vehicles and death fatalities caused by these vehicles would be reduced.
“I am also happy to have noted that during my visit to the CG he said one of the issues they had was that they have scanners in the port but those scanners were not functioning; only a few weeks ago the minister of finance went to commission it. When next I visit, I would find out, now that the scanners have been commissioned, I hope we are going to see a lot of improvements in the clearing process.
“One of the things that I am also pursuing is the port community system, which is our surest way to making our cargo clear out of our port in a matter of hours. If smaller African countries have their port community system working why can’t our own work?
“The deep blue project is responsible for protecting Nigeria’s maritime domain but for the past year that President Muhammadu Buhari launched this project in Lagos, we have not had any cases of piracy in our maritime domain and I think that is an achievement in the sense that in the next one year or two, if we are able to convince International Maritime Organisation, IMO and others, then our insurance cost for goods imported into Nigeria would be much lower because right now we pay war risk insurance,” Sambo said.