Truckers under the aegis of Amalgamation of Maritime Truck Owners Association of Nigeria have tasked the management of Lekki deep seaport on the need to have a coordinated approach on the movement of trucks in and out of the port to achieve seamless cargo evacuation when commercial operation commences next month.
Speaking on behalf of the group during a working visit to the Lekki deep seaport in Lagos on Wednesday, Chief Remi Ogungbemi said the truckers are concerned about movement of trucks in and out of the port as they do not want a replication of Apapa gridlock at the Lekki port.
Noting that cargo evacuation from the Lekki port would still be a challenge due to the poor roads leading to the port city, Ogungbemi urged the Lagos State government to ensure that the roads are expanded and completed as quickly as possible to avert the traffic challenges similar to the one being experienced at Apapa and Tin Can ports.
He said, “The purpose of our visit is to get ourselves familiar with the facility especially where it has to do with movement of trucks in and out of the port so that what happened in Apapa and Tin Can will not repeat itself.
“We also want to know the provisions they made for trucks that are coming to the port.
“We can see that the road is still under construction because the Governor made a pronouncement that the road will be expanded to six lanes. So, we still have problems with the road, it has to be expanded and completed on time otherwise it will be as if we are transferring the problem in Apapa and Tin Can to Lekki but I pray that will not happen.”
Commenting on the infrastructure at the facility, Ogungbemi described the project as a game changer for the Nigerian economy, saying, “What we saw here is the first of its kind. We don’t have such infrastructures in any of our ports. We have not seen such before in Nigeria. It is indeed a game changer.”
On his part, Coordinator of the group, Ridwan Bello, said due to the heavy traffic flow in the Lekki – Epe axis occasioned by the poor access roads, the truckers may consider night movement of trucks before the road construction is completed.
He said there is need to have adequate truck parks around the port corridor that would match with the volume of cargo that would be handled at the port.
Bello also urged the State government to create a dedicated lane for trucks upon completion of the road to reduce gridlock in the axis.
“Our basic concern is the access road and truck park facility. If you look at the Ajah to Lekki road it is in a bad shape so you can imagine the chaos when trucks start coming to the port. So that is why we are proposing night movement for our trucks. From Eleko to Epe, there is a dedicated lane for trucks so we are also suggesting that there should be a dedicated lane for trucks from Lekki to Ajah when the road is completed.
“There should be government satellite parks around the port because if you look at the Dangote refinery, they have their truck park so for the port as well there should be satellite parks that can match with the volume of cargo that the port would handle,” he said.
Chief Operating Officer, Lekki port, Laurence Smith and Head of Regulatory and Procurement, Daniel Odibe, who received the team assured that the challenges of gridlock experienced at the Apapa ports would not be replicated at the Lekki port as its operations would be streamlined and fully automated.
Speaking, Odibe said to ensure smooth evacuation of cargo, the Lekki port management has put in place a truck parking area with a capacity for 250 trucks and a vehicle booking system that will enable truck drivers to either drop off or pick up cargo.
He said trucks will be required to park at the truck parking area until they are called up into the port.
He said, “The port itself has a pre-gate area that can hold about 250 trucks until they are ready to be serviced. So, we are sure that we will have a good turnaround of trucks. With the road network going east of Lagos, we have newly constructed six lane roads leading to Epe all the way to Shagamu. So, I believe we have a couple of options for truckers if they don’t want to go back into Lagos from the Lekki axis.
“We also expect that the NPA in conjunction with other parties can have truck parks outside the port to help marshal the trucks before coming into the port area.”
Leader, Amalgamation of Maritime Truck Owners Association of Nigeria, Chief Remi Ogungbemi (middle); Chief Operating Officer, Lekki deep seaport, Laurence Smith (3rd from left) and other members of the association when the group visited the Lekki deep seaport in Lagos on Wednesday.