As the common gauge enters its last lap with the design of tracks into the Apapa port, the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) has confident all stakeholders and terminal operators of basic safety and clean operation, insisting there is no going back again on the rail job, writes ADEYINKA ADERIBIGBE
The initial contract for the construction of the Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge rail line (now identified as the Large amount II of Lagos-Kano regular gauge rail construction) did not involve a department line into the Apapa Ports Sophisticated the addendum was to harness the total potentials of the railway, specially, the western line, (arguably the nation’s most rewarding), into a total combined line for passenger and freight products and services.
But as the project itches to the ending line with the passenger ingredient now flagged off very last Monday, the freight component, which ought to commence from Apapa, could be stunted, unless the government applies the will and rein in tendencies primed to derail it.
A single these kinds of inclination reared its head penultimate 7 days with the APM Terminal the premier container operator on the Apapa intricate, alleging the contractor’s wilful problems of its property an act it explained as a risk to the nation’s financial system.
The Netherlands based mostly organization had appear quick of accusing the China Civil Engineering Building Corporation (CCECC), of stalling its organization.
Pointedly, APMT alleged that the CCECC, handling the keep track of building, demolished penultimate Wednesday, its vehicles exit gate and some buildings within just its terminal, thus disrupting its functions.
It additional alleged that the demolition was carried out devoid of any prior recognize, thereby hampering its operations.
Remaining the peak of clearing activities APMT insisted that these could have a key effect on container clearing. It hinted the nation’s overall economy may perhaps be at danger as the launch and exit of containers at the seaport may well be stopped.
“This is horrible. I have under no circumstances witnessed this kind of point prior to in this port. There was no warning, no prior notice from the railway contractor. They just introduced their major-duty devices currently and blocked everywhere you go,” one of its officers explained on the heels of the blockade, incorporating: “Port procedure was stopped and every little thing was at standstill. It is total chaos. Everywhere you go is blocked,” he mentioned.
A customs agent, Babawale Busari, accused the rail task contractor for currently being insensitive to port operation and the financial system, warning that the blockade of West Africa’s biggest container terminal would damage Nigeria’s financial state.
“The rail challenge is a great strategy but the way the contractor is heading about it is very erroneous. You really don’t paralyse port functions. Trade need to keep flowing, but it does not show up they understand this at all. Now they have mobilised to web site with no allowing for us to make needed choice preparations for shipping and delivery of containers.
The President of the Nigerian Importers Integrity Association (NIIA), Godwin Onyekazi, explained the government’s desire to url the seaports to the rail community as salutary.
“This is the peak season for importation. More goods are coming into the nation and this disruption will indicate that these items will be stranded at the port.
“Importers will be worse strike for the reason that their goods will be trapped inside the port and they will not be capable to get them to the market in very good time. Also, they will conclusion up paying additional demurrage and storage expenses.”
Onyekazi appealed to the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi and the Handling Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Hadiza Bala Usman to let cargo deliveries to proceed alongside the rail task.
The APMT Games
But port authorities say the APMT has been considerably less than charitable by blaming the contractor, accusing it of deliberate plots to stall the project.
An NPA top shot, who spoke on situation of anonymity, stated NPA had bent backwards numerous instances just to accommodate all the APMT’s grievances.
According to him, as the greatest terminal operator, APMT has been in the picture above two years in the past. He included that the NPA, the Federal Ministry of Transportation, the Group engineers have held various conferences with the APMT and all other terminal operators on the workflow for all to guarantee the elimination of all hindrances to the venture.
He said: “As a civil servant, I would not have so acted if not on the orders of my Taking care of Director, Hadiza Bala Usman, who also would not have acted until directed by the Federal Ministry of Transportation performing as directed by the Federal Authorities. He mentioned the NPA as Federal Government’s agency and landlord, gave the contractor acceptance to transfer to website and to begin procedure, in compliance with the directive of the Minister of Transportation whose desire it is to hand over the project in January 2021.
Thinking why the terminal operator would vacation resort to inexpensive blackmail, the NPA formal requested why the operator would heap all the blame on the contractor, being aware of it could not have acted without the need of NPA’s acceptance, performing on behalf of the Federal Government, the proprietor of all the land in the advanced.
He accused the Dutch company of steps capable of derailing the nation’s match on inter-modal transportation and the integration of rail transportation programs in freight operation.
Placing the information straight, the formal stated the NPA authorities experienced extra than 12 meetings with all operators, in which all concerns with regards to the construction of a velocity train corridor into the port sophisticated ended up trashed, and experienced held more than six different conferences with the APMT exactly where even more assurances had been offered and engineering models experienced been severally altered at the instance of the operator.
“NPA had bent numerous occasions backwards for APMT, we have experienced to do at the very least four engineering layouts of the venture for the reason that, at each and every issue, the business will appear up with an excuse and ask for that the drawings be redrawn. At the last rely, they experienced asked for we change the alignment of the track near to the fence, and even when this was done, they nevertheless arrived up with a collection of other excuses just to put a wedge on the design and the shipping and delivery of the venture.”
An additional NPA official, Mr Dasaolu Oladimeji, urged all terminal operators to cooperate with the Federal Federal government in acquiring a rail program into Apapa as it would have a large effects on freight and cargo operation and aid the streets in just Apapa and Lagos surroundings of targeted traffic congestion and attendant gridlock.
Oladimeji, an architect, said the NPA has been honest to all terminal operators, adding that the the very least expected from the operators is their cooperation to be certain the shipping and delivery of all mandates supplied to the company on behalf of Nigerians.
He mentioned the development has been designed in these kinds of a way as to have the least effects on their functions, incorporating that the monitor laying is these kinds of that it could be concluded in phases and executed and sent in record time.
He, as a result, appealed to the APMT to assist the undertaking and stop getting a cog in the wheel, as the job is topmost on the agenda of the governing administration for shipping and delivery to Nigerians.
“I just want to attraction to the APMT to join other terminal operators and permit the work to go on unhindered for the reason that it is a job expensive to the Federal Govt of Nigeria.”
CCECC is executing orders
The Chinese contractor insisted that it by no means invaded and impeded operations of the terminal operator. CCECC stated it has the authority of the Federal Governing administration by the NPA to move to web site and keep on to do the job, adding that nothing at all was ever finished without the need of the expertise of the NPA, the supervising authority of the port place.
Just one of its officials, who have attended numerous conferences at the instance of the NPA, possibly with all the terminal operators or with the APMT claimed all challenges would often show up set only for the APMT to throw a cog in the performs at the position of execution.
A supervisory engineer with CCECC, Jimoh Abdulwakeel, advised our correspondent that a single these types of meeting was held on October 8, this 12 months, whereby it was agreed that the contractor can shift to web site, even though the ROW within just the APMT was marked underneath the supervision of the APMT Safety Officer.
He stated a letter ref: LIRP-APMT-S1-2020-081 dated Oct 27, titled notification on the elimination of structures was sent to the APMT General Supervisor, and the next working day a letter ref: LIRP-NPA-S1- 2020-082 titled elimination of structures on ROW in Apapa port was sent to the NPA.
On November 5, the contractor also forwarded to APMT cross-part and other drawings and on November 16, the Gantt chart design things to do was forwarded to APMT and on November 20, the CCECC, collectively with APMT, FMOT and NPA experienced a conference to strategise for website mobilisation inside of the APMT conference area, and thereafter experienced yet another web site inspection whereby the APMT officers promised to get back to NPA.
Abdulwakeel, who supervises the track building from Ebute Meta to Apapa port sophisticated, claimed: “We blocked the exit gate just to attract their consideration.”
He explained even with all agreements, APMT was nevertheless to remove all impediments nonetheless on the suitable of way of the project, without having which get the job done cannot get started.
He explained CCECC was ready to go whole blast when these are taken out.