From Jerry Aguigbo
The Powerful Pen Media, a tabloid published by the Maritime Journalists’ Association of Nigeria (MAJAN), has concluded plans to stage a 2-day Maritime Summit on the business-stifling Apapa traffic melee that has turned to a nightmare to commuters and port users.
With the theme, ‘Apapa Perennial Gridlock; has it defied all solutions ?
* Government seems helpless ;
* The task before regulatory Agencies;
* Devastating effects on businesses;
*Effect on government’s revenue.’
Speaking with journalists in Apapa, Lagos, over the weekend, Editor-In-Chief of the paper, Comrade Ray Ugochukwu, explained that the Summit becomes imperative for all stakeholders to deliberate and proffer immediate and lasting solutions to the lingering crisis.
He added that the Summit is a follow-up to the Special Congress, recently held by The Powerful Pen Media Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), where port users lamented the ugly effects of the perennial gridlock on their businesses and national economy.
According to him, “We have heard from port users, including freight forwarders, truckers, importers, licensed Customs agents, among others. We must therefore strike a balance by giving agencies of government, traffic managers, shipping firms, bonded terminal operators, port concessionaires and others opportunity to tell Nigerians their own stories, as to how they intend to solve this problem.
“Maritime is the second highest revenue-generating sector for the government after oil. Even at that, without maritime the oil sector will be paralysed, because without the sea, there will be nothing like oil revenue. So, all hands must be on deck to tackle the gridlock, in order to rejuvenate the industry”.
Comrade Ugochukwu, who doubles as the President of MAJAN, added, “We are all involved because Nigeria belongs to all of us. As MAJAN, part of our advocacy, which we’re advancing through our paper, The Powerful Pen, is the institution of international best practice in the system.
” We have a responsibility to inform the public on issues affecting maritime in particular and the economy in general.
“We believe it is time to activate actions that will bring all stakeholders together, harvest ideas and solutions that will help government in addressing the problem. This is exactly what the Summit is all about”.
The Summit, slated for Thursday and Friday, March 4-5, 2021 in Lagos, he informed, will definitely chart the way forward for tackling the monster that has plagued the country for years now.
, he said, “MAJAN had always been at the forefront of trying to find solution to the gridlock on Apapa ports’ access roads.
“Recall that on December 8, 2016, MAJAN members embarked on a protest march on Apapa traffic, where all our members walked from Mile- 2 bridge to Apapa. It was a very tasking exercise that took us a whole day, but we did it successfully.
We moved from Mile- 2 to PTML, Tin Can Port, Apapa Port, up to Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Apapa local government, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), in Marina, and up to Alausa, Ikeja, the seat of Lagos State government. We ended it up in the premises of MiTV, Ikeja.
“During that protest march, we submitted letters to various agencies warning on the dangers of this same gridlock. In fact, our letters deliberately packaged in red envelops, signifying impending danger, were addressed to Nigeria Customs’ boss; Shippers’ Council’s Executive Secretary/CEO; MD of NPA; and President Muhammadu Buhari through the then Governor Akinwunmi Ambode.
“Apart from Ambode, who is no longer in office, the heads all the agencies we visited, who are still in office, can attest to my claims. We did warn that if this hydra-headed monster is not nipped in the bud, the industry would be in danger. Today, we have been vindicated!
“So, we are not relenting, as we will continue to do our best to ensure that the problem is tackled holistically”.