The Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) yesterday said physical toll collection by agents of the Lagos State government was fuelling traffic gridlock on the port access road.
Speaking during an enlarged Presidential Port Standing Task Team (PPSTT) meeting and an update on the second phase of operation free the port corridor along Apapa- Tin-Can- Coconut -Berger yard – Mile2-Orile-Ijora Sifax, the executive secretary of the council, Emmanuel Jime, urged the Lagos State government to automate its toll collection processes.
The Shippers’ Council boss, however, commended the presidential port task team’s officers for clearing the port access road which was filled with shanties, allowing extortion.
Though he said he recognised the need for the state government to increase revenue to meet current economic and social challenges, he, however, advised the deployment of technology in the state to enhance ease of doing business and to make the road free of encumbrances.
He said: “We recognise the government’s resolve to raise revenue, whether the state or local government. This is important and we needed to recognise that the purpose of the task team was to clear the port corridor of traffic because if we don’t do this, we won’t be able to get efficiency and economies of scale. It has been shown that if we have efficiency, the port and government will make more money.
“But, in raising revenue, it has to be done in such a way that ease of doing business is not affected. This is 21st century; we can collect revenue and deploy technology. We appeal to the government because the method used in collecting toll on the road is outdated; we can find more ideal way of doing that without impeding traffic.”
However, the Lagos State government said it will be introducing another method for the Lagos State Park and Gardens and the Apapa Local Government officials to collect toll in order to ease the gridlock on the port access road
The LASG, which was represented by one of the directors in the Ministry of Transportation, Olayinka Sakiru, said residents of Apapa had abandoned the port city due to heavy traffic it suffered in the past.
He, however, commended the port standing task team, saying they have cleared the port access road of traffic gridlock which he said had increased the ease of doing business at the nation’s seaports.
“We are also concerned about that toll collection, they (park management) should have another mode of collection instead of being on the road. We will work on that because we know hawking and collection of tolls add to gridlock. We are working on it. Many residents have run away from Apapa because of the gridlock; we have noticed the success of the task team.”
Speaking earlier, the coordinator, Port Standing Task Team (PSTT), Moses Fadipe, said the Port access roads were cleared of encumbrances in 32 days.
Fadipe also lamented the activities of transport unions and local government officials that collect tolls on the access road, saying they, as well, impede free flow of traffic.
“This is a journey we started on the 14th April 2022, with a distance of 2.6km where we have about 26 extortion points. The road seemed like a nightmare when we started, but no matter how the problem is, if there is co-operation, they would be able to surmount the problem.
“Before our operation, the roads were turned into indiscriminate parking lots, mechanic workshops and refuse dumps. We did a lot of education before enforcement and we cleared all encumbrances in 32 days.”
He, however, bemoaned attack on members of the task team,
“We have seen several attacks on the task team, physical and forceful attacks. For instance, we have an officer that was attacked and has been in the hospital for over two weeks. We thank God he’s alive and not dead,” he stated.