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Apapa gridlock: Lagos to take over operations of Presidential Taskforce on Port Decongestion

The governor said that the new task force would be a combined team of officers of LASTMA and the police.

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The Lagos State Government has moved to take over from the Presidential Taskforce on Port Decongestion and create a new operational template for the taskforce.

This is seen as part of the steps being taken by the state government to restore sanity to the Apapa axis that has been bedeviled by serious traffic congestion, which has impacted negatively on businesses and lives in that environment.

READ: Traffic likely to return to Apapa as FG withdraws Presidential Task Force

The disclosure was made by the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, during an unplanned fact-finding visit to Apapa, on Monday, to ascertain the causes of incessant gridlocks on roads leading to the seaports, which revealed several factors responsible for the congestion.

The governor said that the new operational template for the presidential task force would be enforced by a combined team of officers of Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) and the police.

READ: Lagos Govt seals Queens Park Event Centre, Oniru for contravening COVID-19 protocol

During the visit with members of the state cabinet, the Governor physically assessed the complexity of the situation that allowed heavy-duty trucks to clog up the access roads, as a blame game ensued between stakeholders operating within and around the Apapa seaports.

While the Committee of Freight Forwarders and Maritime Truckers (COFFAMAT) blamed the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) officials, Presidential Taskforce on Port Decongestion and the police for the corruption that allowed truck drivers to park indiscriminately on the road, the Council of Maritime Transport Union and Association (COMTUA) absolved the police and Taskforce, accusing COFFAMAT, truck drivers and other stakeholders of not playing by the rules.

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READ: FG extends deadline for Telcos to block SIMs without NIN to February 2021

A customs licensed clearing and forwarding agent, Mr. Boniface Okoye, heaped the blame on the customs for giving undue access to the shippers’ council to leave empty containers in the port areas, while pointing an accusing finger at the police for looking away after allegedly collecting kickbacks.

Following the accusations and counter-accusations by the stakeholders, Sanwo-Olu revealed the plans of the State Government to checkmate activities of all operators that had led to the problems being experienced in the area.

The Governor wondered why container-laden trucks not yet called upon for loading in the ports were indiscriminately parked on the newly rehabilitated Tincan Road, instead of moving into the approved terminal provided by the Government.

READ: Covid-19: Nigeria considers international travel ban as new strain gains momentum

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What the Lagos State Governor is saying

Sanwo-Olu disclosed the plans of the state government to restore sanity to the roads on that axis.

The Governor said, “This is about the fourth time which my Government has been trying to address Apapa gridlock and bring sanity back to the area. On each occasion we had come here, we knew that there were road constructions. This time around, there has been a lot of improvement and we have seen that a lot of the roads within Apapa have been completed. But, there has been no respite for commuters in terms of free traffic flow.

READ: Food crisis imminent as lockdown continues to restrict cargo movement – Kobo360

“Our plan is to bring about cohesive system where all stakeholders would understand their roles and resolve challenges being encountered. Since last year, the Presidential Taskforce has been working on this issue. Now, there is a process that is starting in which the State Government is taking over the task force. This is one of the reasons for this trip to Apapa today; to ascertain what needs to be done. We will have a team of policemen and LASTMA dedicated to Apapa Ports for enforcement of task force’s mandates.”

The Governor said the visit to the ports would be followed up with stakeholders’ engagement with NPA, shipping companies’ owners and freight forwarders, stressing that a situation where truck drivers needed to wait for about 10 hours for handing over of operation from one NPA team to another was not acceptable.

READ: Covid-19: FG launches strategy document on managing pandemic

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Sanwo-Olu pointed out that the sharp practices and inadequacies observed in the handling of the container operations at the ports would be escalated to the Minister of Transport, adding that the misconducts of the policemen stationed close to the ports would be reported to the Inspector General of Police (IGP).

He said: “Lagos State Government is not the owner of the ports whose operations is causing pain to residents, but we owe a duty to our citizens whose lives and businesses have been badly impacted because of the gridlocks created in this part of the State. I believe this trip would give us another opportunity where all of us, as stakeholders, will be able to identify impediments and resolve the issues once and for all.

What you should know

  • It can be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari inaugurated a Presidential Taskforce headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Comrade Kayode Opeifa as Vice Chairman to restore sanity on the Apapa axis, following the total collapse of law and order which led to indiscriminate parking of heavy articulated vehicles like trucks, tankers, and containerized heavy-duty vehicles on roads leading to Apapa and its environs.
  • However, following the restoration of some level of normalcy on the axis with the disappearance of trucks and tankers on the bridges and roads, the Federal Government announced the withdrawal of the Presidential Taskforce.

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Chike Olisah is a graduate of accountancy with over 15 years working experience in the financial service sector. He has worked in research and marketing departments of three top commercial banks. Chike is a senior member of the Nairametrics Editorial Team. You may contact him via his email- [email protected]

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Business

CBN assures exporters of unhindered access to their dollar earnings

The CBN has given assurances to exporters that they will continue to have unfettered access to their export proceeds.

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CBN forex restrictions on food itemsCBN approves new cheque standard for banks

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has given assurances to exporters that they will continue to have unfettered access to their export proceeds.

This is believed to be part of the monetary control measure by the apex bank to ensure more dollar inflow and maintain forex liquidity.

This disclosure was made by the Governor of CBN, Mr Godwin Emefiele, during a virtual presentation at Zenith Bank’s 2021 Export Seminar, on Thursday, April 20, 2021.

Emefiele, however, in his statement, urged the exporters to reciprocate the good gestures of the central bank by repatriating their funds back to the country.

He said that supporting greater trade within Africa and the global community is vital to the CBN’s objectives of enabling greater economic growth and creating employment opportunities for the country’s growing population.

Emefiele said there is a strong push for the diversification of the Nigerian economy as the coronavirus outbreak has impacted negatively on global oil prices in 2020, which led to a huge drop in the country’s foreign exchange earnings and government revenue.

The CBN boss was optimistic that the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCFTA) will provide opportunities for the Nigerian private sector to expand into new markets and seek new export opportunities, particularly in the area of manufacturing, ICT, agriculture and financial services.

He stated that the full implementation of AFCFTA would give Nigerian firms preferential access to markets in Africa with a value of about $504.17 billion in goods and $162 billion in services.

What you should know

It can be recalled that the CBN had introduced several measures to encourage the inflow of forex into the country following the sharp drop in oil revenue.

Some of those measures include the Naira 4 Dollar Scheme, an initiative aimed at giving incentives to senders and recipients of international money transfer in order to attract more diaspora remittances through official channels

The CBN had in January 2021, announced that all Nigerian exporters who are yet to repatriate their export proceeds, will be barred from banking services effective from January 31, 2021.

Why this matters

The CBN believes that repatriating these export proceeds via the NAFEX (Investor and Exporter) window will improve liquidity in the official market and perhaps strengthen the naira at the black market.

Most of the exporters sell their forex to the parallel market where it can be exchanged for higher naira value-boosting their gains on foreign currency conversions.

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However, it is yet to be seen if exporters will comply with this directive or seek other means of avoiding the hammer on them. Most exporters already find a way to avoid these hammers by opening foreign bank accounts where most of the export proceeds are warehoused and then sold at the black market.

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Trespassers allegedly invade Banana Island, Onikoyi, pose threat to residents

Several unidentified people have been reportedly loitering around Onikoyi Road, Turnbull Road exit, Park View Estate and Alexander Road in Ikoyi.

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Trespassers have allegedly invaded highbrow areas in Ikoyi, especially Banana Island, posing a looming danger to the serenity of the area.

This was confirmed by a video shared on Twitter on Tuesday.

Some of the trespassers are roadside food sellers, barbers, and hoodlums, some of whom were seen in clusters, smoking hemp and ominously watching the movements of residents. The presence and activities of these invaders are yet to attract the attention of relevant security agencies in the state. It is still unclear who these people are, where they have come from and why there are quite a number of them loitering about the highlighted areas.

According to the video that went viral, the invaders have been seen milling around streets like Onikoyi Road, Turnbull Road exit, Park view estate and Alexander Road among others.

READ: How Nigeria discovered gold along Abuja-Nassarawa axis – Minister

Residents lament

Some of the residents, who spoke with Nairametrics in a telephone interview also confirmed the development, which they described as ‘a ticking time bomb waiting to explode.’

One of the telephone respondents, a staff of a Telecoms company operating in the area, who spoke on the condition of anonymity claimed that the hoodlums often harass residents and law-abiding citizens working around those areas.

He said, “They harass some of our office assistants when they run errands for the organisation at times and that is disturbing. We have complained to security agencies but nothing has been done. All we were told was that the police will take appropriate action soon.”

Another resident explained that initially, it was the roadside food vendors that first came to the area and while some people complained, others argued that they should be permitted to operate because low-cadre staff of organisations in the area need easy access to affordable meals.

She said, “Their actions and trespass have gone beyond limit now and if nothing is done, the situation can turn chaotic soon. The environment is gradually losing its serenity.”

Critics give knocks on social media

Nigerians have taken to Twitter to criticise the report, saying that the rich cannot extricate themselves from the problems of the poor.

For instance, Fisayo Soyombo, an investigative journalist, tweeted, “The rich who’re trying to #SecureIkoyi are missing a point: they cannot extricate themselves from the problems of the poor. The escapism of having Ikoyi all to themselves is a mere phantasm; it won’t happen. The rich had better be interested in the poor.

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“Rather than worrying about having Ikoyi to themselves, they had better be interested in the creation  of a country that works for all, rather than just a few at the expense of the rest, else we are all in this vicious circle where Ikoyi is a little more than a glorified Ajegunle.”

Mohammed Selim, stated, “Invaders??? Was it so difficult to see that loads of them are construction and domestic workers supposedly needed to run the supposedly high brow areas?? Your report is full of mischief & it’s inciting, calling fellow citizens invaders like they need passport to go anywhere there.”

Oladeinde Olawoyin, tweeted, “Absolutely. Inclusive growth and all-round development that puts every citizen irrespective of social class in decent employment/productive engagement. That way, Ikoyi will sleep in peace, just as Ajegunle would, too. But then: wouldn’t that rob Ikoyi of its haughty demeanor?”

Bottomline

With the rising spate of insecurity in the country, security agencies may need to carry out further investigation to ascertain that these people do not pose a security risk to law-abiding residents and company staff in the highlighted areas; and to prevent a possible breakdown of law and order.

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