The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has expressed worry over the incessant traffic gridlock on Apapa axis of Lagos State, which they say was capable of negatively affecting the Nigeria economy.
MAN said due to challenges bordering on delay of import/export processes, heavy human and vehicular congestion around the ports, difficulty in gaining access to the ports due to bad roads, security concerns and incidence of corruption and infractions among the players – government officials and port users, the Nigerian ports are currently classified among the worst ports in the world.
According to them, the World Bank 2015 – 2017 Ease of Doing Business (EDB) indicator for measuring the effectiveness of ports, trading across borders, ranked Nigeria at a depressing 182/183 out of 185 countries. Significant efforts were made in reforming the maritime sector through the partial privatisation of the ports in the mid-2000s and other subsequent interventions. However, more than two decades after, the results of the reforms are not impressive as stakeholders daily face bureaucratic red tape, constant delays and illegal charges leading to high cost of operations.
As a result, MAN said the economy is currently losing about N600 billion in customs revenue, estimated $10 billion for non-oil export and about N2.5 trillion corporate revenues in the industry on an annual basis. Capacity utilisation stands at 38-40 per cent and approximately 40 per cent of businesses located around the ports communities have either relocated to other areas, scaled down operations or completely closed down. These developments have very huge implication for tax revenue, job creation and real economic activities with downside effect of about 3 per cent on the country’s GDP.
Identifying the Apapa gridlock is an existential problem for the country, MAN added that the poor quality of port access roads, complex port procedures, and ineffective truck call-up system in the Apapa area, among other factors, continue to lead to delays and inefficiencies, with huge costs to the manufacturing of goods. In addition, its impact on the community is unbearable and has resulted in a reduction in property valuation as well as environmental and health hazards.
Engr Mansur Ahmed, the President of MAN in an interview said that a lot of manufacturers are recording colossal losses as their goods get stuck in gridlock on Apapa port road for weeks; many firms are either suspending operations or relocating out of the area, even out of Nigeria to other African countries. To this end, he said the organised private sector are worried over the constant Apapa gridlock, urging the Federal Government to be proactive in solving the heavy traffic jam on the road.