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Contractor blocks Apapa port terminal, demolishes exit gate

Commercial activities at the nation’s busiest seaport, Apapa Port, came to a halt when contractor handling the rail project blocked entrance into APM Terminal and…

Commercial activities at the nation’s busiest seaport, Apapa Port, came to a halt when contractor handling the rail project blocked entrance into APM Terminal and started removing buildings around the place.

The terminal, which is managed APM Terminals, could not continue with operation throughout the better part of on Wednesday.

It was learnt that the action of the Chinese rail project contractor hampered Customs inspection, release and exit of containers at Nigeria’s busiest seaport.

Many importers and clearing agents could not conclude their transactions while loaded trucks were unable to exit the terminal as a result of the sudden demolition of the structures.

The blockade also made it impossible for empty trucks to enter the terminal to pick up containers for delivery to their owners.

The situation had further compounded the Apapa gridlocks as trucks piled up on the port access road.

“This is terrible. I have never seen this kind of thing before in this port. There was no warning, no prior notice from the railway contractor. They just brought their heavy duty machines today and blocked everywhere.

“Port operation has been stopped. It is a standstill. It is total chaos. Everywhere is blocked,” Monday Ekanem, a clearing agent at the Apapa port, lamented.

Another customs agent blamed the rail project contractor for being insensitive to port operation and the economy, warning that the blockade of West Africa’s largest container terminal would have adverse effect on Nigeria’s economy.

“The rail project is a good idea but the way the contractor is going about is very wrong. You don’t paralyse port operation. Trade must keep flowing, but it does not appear they understand this at all. Now, they have mobilised to site without allowing us to make necessary alternative arrangements for delivery of containers.

“There is also no arrangement for how trucks will enter and exit the terminal. They do not know the implication of what they are doing. And no one knows how long this will last,” the agent, who identified himself as Mohammed said.

Also speaking on the development, President of the Nigerian Importers Integrity Association, Godwin Onyekazi, said while the desire of government to link the seaports to the rail network was commendable, the project should be implemented in a way that would not hamper port operation.

Onyekazi appealed to the Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority, Hadiza Bala Usman and the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, to intervene in the matter with a view to allowing cargo deliveries to continue alongside the rail project.

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