Several decades of infrastructure rot, neglect and poor or zero maintenance culture coupled with rustled-up management prescriptions had left public infrastructure including roads, utilities in total ruin and tattiest state. Year in, year out, annual budgets in trillions of naira are made with the focus on building new infrastructure with little or no provision for maintenance budget.
Among the causalities of this criminal neglect are the Nigerian ports across the country particularly those in Lagos. The Lagos Port Complex, also known as Premiere Port (Apapa Quays) in those days, is the earliest (the first) and the largest port in Nigeria.
Established way back in 1913, some several decades before this writer was born, the port was financed by the colonial government, thus becoming the busiest port for exporting agricultural produce and importation of goods from countries of the world. Today, Nigeria has six seaports with the Calabar Port now in Cross River state being the first and the oldest seaport in Nigeria.
The intractable traffic situation had necessitated presidential intervention with the signing of an executive order on ease of doing business at the ports and the visit of the then Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) to the facility and subsequent inauguration of a presidential task force to clear the area of the traffic menace which became a national shame and embarrassment.
Tankers and articulated vehicles’ queue had extended from Apapa to Onipanu on the Ikorodu Expressway, Eko and Ijora bridges, taking the drivers about 40 days and 40 nights to complete their journeys of going into ports to either discharge their containers, commodities or taking them out. In short, between 2017 and 2019, the Apapa traffic was hellacious, with a debilitating effect on the economy.
Compounding the traffic situation was the road reconstruction and rehabilitation being executed by the NPA in collaboration with Flourmills and Dangote stretching from Area B Police Station and the Apapa Port gate along Warehouse road.