Apapa: Logistics, infrastructure delay opening of Lilypond Terminal, Trailer Park

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Contrary to expectations, the opening of the Lilypond Terminal in Ijora and Trailer Park on Apapa-Oshodi Expressway in Lagos earlier scheduled for yesterday (Thursday) and today (Friday) is being delayed due to logistics and infrastructure challenges, BusinessDay findings have revealed.

The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Federal Ministry of Works had on Monday assured of the opening of the two parking spaces, as part of measures to decongest Apapa and Tin Can Island Ports, and also clear the seemingly intractable gridlock on roads and bridges leading to Apapa.

But the inability of the Federal Government to put the necessary logistics for running a transit park in place led to the failure of the NPA to open the Lilypond Terminal to container-carrying trucks to use as transit parks as scheduled.

Similarly, the opening of the Trailer Park has been deferred by at least one week due to absence of critical infrastructure facilities such as water, electricity and conveniences that are supposed to be put in place to make the running of the parking facility seamless.

Speaking with our correspondent in a telephone interview, Remi Ogungbemi, chairman, Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO), explained that the NPA needed to put certain logistics in place before opening the terminal gate to truckers.

“We were there yesterday (Wednesday) with the NPA officials and discovered that there were other things that needed to be put in place before opening the terminal to truckers,” Ogungbemi said.

“For instance, the NPA needs to remove the empty containers stacked in the Lilypond Terminal and put some other things in place. We were supposed to be there today (Thursday) but something happened,” he said.

Ogungbemi said the NPA was trying to put some logistics in place before opening the terminal’s gate to truckers, adding that the authority was also waiting for final directive from the Federal Government before taking off.

He was, however, optimistic that the picture would be clearer by today (Friday).
However, Adams Jatto, general manager, corporate and strategic communication of the NPA, said in a telephone interview that the NPA was summoned to a meeting with the Office of the Vice President, which was held at the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) on Thursday, to agree on the modalities for managing traffic in Apapa.

“The meeting finished very late and that was why we could not go to Lilypond for commissioning but we will be there tomorrow (Friday) and truckers will be able to start entering the terminal,” he said.

He assured that logistics issues would not hinder the NPA from starting as the issues would be handled while the terminal was operational. He pointed to putting conveniences like toilets in place as the only major issue in Lilypond, saying that would not stop the NPA from going ahead to allow trucks into the terminal.

When BusinessDay visited the terminal on Thursday evening, no trucks were seen parked, but few container boxes were seen stacked on the terminal. It was noticed too that no container-carrying trucks were on the bridges or roads leading to Apapa, but some of them were seen parked under the Ijora Bridge.

“Just like every other person, we heard that this terminal will be used for parking of container-carrying trucks but we have not received any official information or instruction in that regard,” said a security officer at Lilypond Terminal, who did not want to be named.

Adedamola Kuti, federal controller of works, Western Zone, told BusinessDay in a telephone interview that the trailer park would not be opened as planned, citing infrastructure challenges.
“We are not opening the park as planned because we are still having challenges. You cannot open a place like that without water and light. It will not be good to operate the place without water particularly,” Kuti explained, assuring that they would within the next few days buy a transformer and sink a borehole to serve the park.

When BusinessDay visited the construction site on Thursday, workers were upbeat with the marking of spaces which one of the workers said would finish that day. Work was also at finishing level on the shoreline protection. It is hoped that the park will be ready next week.
“We have setback regarding the Tin-Can Truck Park because the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing requested the NPA to give them another one or two weeks to put amenities like lightening, security facilities, and toilets in place. However, we are hopeful that it will be commissioned next week,” Jatto said.

CHUKA UROKO & AMAKA ANAGOR-EWUZIE

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