The federal government is losing over N10 billion daily to the Apapa Wharf gridlock, president of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, said on Tuesday.
Speaking to State House correspondents at the end of a meeting between Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and private sector operators on how to resolve the Apapa gridlock, Dangote said reconstruction work would start on the Apapa-Oworonshoki expressway by next week.
He said government would be able to save a lot of money as a against the current loss of over N10 billion in daily when the project is completed.
“Government will be able to save a lot of money, right now the total loss to the economy is over N10 billion daily.
“Apapa-Oworoshoki way is going to start next week. Everything, including the design, has been handed over. We will start work next week. The bidding process is going to go on where four, five contractors will bid. Anybody that wins the contract, we will fund the project under the agreement that we have.
“You have to understand that Apapa and Tin Can Island Ports handle about 80 per cent of the cargoes that come into Nigeria. As we speak, some of our ships are waiting to come in from Lome and discharge. It is not because we don’t have anywhere to birth the ship but because all our operations are choked up because we have containers, general cargoes that have actually been there and we are not able to remove. But I am more worried about the smaller operators because for those that have imported, the charges are accumulating everyday. Transport charge has almost doubled,” he said.
Also speaking, he managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Hadiza Bala Usman, said stakeholders agreed that the major challenge around Apapa area is road issue, hence the decision to de-congest the ports.
She said: “We have noted that there is a need to move empty containers out of that location. So we have received clear directives that all empty containers need to be taken to holding bay. Shipping companies cannot have ports locations within the ports any more, so that will free a lot of traffic within the area.
“We have also noted the need for all tank farms owners to comply with the utilisation of holding bays. No more approvals of tank farms will be permitted within the Apapa area any longer.
“There is also full commitment of Dangote to complete the reconstruction of Apapa Wharf Road by June 2018, but palliative works will commence within the immediate period for Tin Can Island.
“There is decisive efforts by Vice President giving clear directives on the need for us to conclude on reconstruction, the trailer park on Tin Can Island will also be reconstructed within three months, so that we can have access to holding bays and trailer parks.”