The Chairman of the day with members on the high table.
Story by Dili Utomi.
The Powerful Pen newspaper, a publication of the Maritime Journalists Association of Nigeria has carried out its first Maritime Summit. The Summit had its theme as: Apapa Perennial Traffic Gridlock: Has it defied all Solutions?
The Summit was to have the Governor of Lagos state as its Chief Host and Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa as lead speaker, but these personalities never turned up as the event kicked off anyway.
Key speakers and personalities at the event included Chief Eugene Nweke; former President, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) and Chairman of the occasion, Mr. Adeleye Ajayi, Chairman of the Lagos state Council of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, Mr. Pius Ujubonu, Co-Chairman and a member of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA): Akin Osinowo; Deputy Director, Operations, Nigeria Railway Corporation, Mr. Kingsley Ukabiala; Representative of the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority(NPA), Mrs. I. N Adeshiyan of the Lagos state wharf Landing Fees, DC Orbih of the Tin Can Port Command of the Nigeria Customs Service, Kingsley Anaroke, a prominent Maritime journalist.
Chief Eugene Nweke, the Chairman giving direction to the occasion.
Others are, Mr Francis Omotosho; Registrar, NAGAFF Academy, Mr. Dipo Olayoku; National Secretary, NAGAFF, Chief Boniface Okoye; Managing Director, Bontex, Mr. Tunde Olalere, Secretary NUJ Lagos State Council, Mrs. Iyabo Ogunjuyigbe; Treasurer, Lagos State Council and Olayide Awosanya; EX-Officio, Lagos State Councils.
The editor-in-chief of the newspaper putting head together with colleagues to put finishing touches before the occasion started.
In a welcome address by the editor-in-chief of the newspaper, Mr. Ray Ugochukwu, he recalled the initial attempt made by the Maritime Journalists Association of Nigeria on December 8, 2016 to sensitise people and warn them of the impending danger if the traffic situation in and around Apapa was not improved, he noted that they marched then through major areas of Apapa to the Marina and onwards to the Lagos state governor’s office in Ikeja with letters encased in red envelopes to various government bodies and up to the presidency to signify the inherent danger as seen then. Mr. Ugochukwu also traced the history of the gridlock to the displacement of trucks from the Port garages as a direct fallout of the hastily implemented port concession carried out then by the then federal government.
Some MAJAN members before commencement of the occasion.
He also noted that figures from the Organised Private Sector (OPS), shows that the country losses a whooping #140b weekly as a direct effect of the traffic gridlock and also losses a further $10b from wasted products annually. He called on all to give the electronic call up system instituted by the Nigerian Ports Authority the needed time and space to work as it is a modern technological way of taking care of the problem.
A cross section of participants at the occasion.
In his own presentation, Mr. Francis I. Omotosho, the Registrar of the NAGAFF Academy recalled that the gridlock started as small hold-ups when trailers started loading wet cargoes from the few tank farms that we had around the Port area then, and that it snowballed into the gridlock that we have today as more tank farms appeared and then the federal government concessioned the ports to private hands without the usual Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) carried out on the area and without the provisions for truck garages for the displaced trucks.
Mr. Omotosho concluded by saying that “The traffic gridlock has proved Herculean since the new millennium. Its incidence and impact worsened with the success of the concessions which prioritized private sector-led Port operations. With the outlook of the Nigerian economy being bright coupled with possible
exponential growth in agriculture and agribusiness, more exports from the Lagos ports system are expected. Although the government seemed handicapped for ready solutions, the latter-day efforts by the Nigerian Navy to clear the gridlock began to yield some results from mid-2018 following the barring of inner city roads to truck traffic. However, the long term sustainability of such ad hoc measures is unpredictable. Hence an urban renewal and
reconstruction programme to modernize city transport infrastructures and complete review of our ports master plans would seem a better remedial policy”.
MAJAN members before the occasion started.
The Chairman of the occasion in an interview said that what inspired the summit is service to the nation and that it was primarily organised to find solutions to the problem and promised that a communique will be drawn and sent to various levels of government, he urged every Nigerian to use the admonition in the national pledge ” Serve Nigeria with all our might” as he said that this is not going to be one of those run-of-mill types of summit that do not make the desired impact.
The Chairman of the occasion with other members on the high table.
On his part, the publisher of the MMS Magazine, Mr. Kingsley Anaroke said that we need the combination of prayers to God and the honesty of all Nigerians to make the various policies to work and warned that it will be tough to defeat the cabals that are benefitting from the chaotic traffic situation, but said that with deliberate actions and sincere and honest focus we shall surmount the problem.
On his own part, the Lagos state NUJ chairman, Adeleye Ajayi
suggested that there should be three modes of transportation, saying that cargoes could be moved by barges. According to him, the launch of the electronic call- up system will soon make the gridlock a thing of the past.
MAJAN president presenting his welcome address
Generally speaking, Guest Speakers at the event appeared to be speaking with one voice by calling the attention of the government to finding lasting solutions to the problem of Apapa Gridlock using technology and other available means.
The representative of the MD of NPA, Mr. Kingsley Ukabiala making a point at the occasion.
In the end all participants encouraged the government to implement the recommendation of members at the summit as a communique was issued at the end of it all.
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