The unrelenting gridlock on the access roads to the nation’s major port, the Apapa Port, is threatening the successful implementation of the Presidential Executive Order of 24 hours’ operations at the seaports. Our correspondent, who visited the Apapa Port on Tuesday, observed that the exit gate of the port was completely blocked with over 500 trucks lined up and waiting to get out.
The chaotic situation was compounded by rainfall, patches of muddy roads and palliative work being carried out around Barracks Bus Stop, opposite Flour Mills.
A freight forwarder, Mr. Chike Ejiofor, expressed doubts about the success of the 24-hour operations.
He said that most things were still being done manually and there were still many unnecessary signature points with people wasting valuable time moving documents from one point to the other.
Ejiofor stated, “There are too many bottlenecks and the servers can be down for almost four hours. Sometimes you can put down your documents from 7am at the exit gate and by noon, you have not been cleared for exit.
“To clear an average container, one can spend up to four days. At times, you submit your documents for the ‘exit’ stamp to be put on them and the documents will sleep at the gate till the following morning.
“Sometimes in the process of trying to clear the importer for exit, the server will just go down and it may go down for a whole day. Sometimes they will tell you that the server is locked from Abuja.”
The Chairman, International Freight Forwarders Association, Paul Uzobide, said that nothing had changed since the commencement of the 24-hour operations.
He said that the reason why the port was congested was because the exit gate was blocked by trucks trying to get out.
“No empty trucks because all the trucks have been occupied for days. The shipping companies are gaining because the more the containers stay here, the more they charge demur-rage,” he noted.