By EZINNE AZUNNA

The Hon Minister of State for Transportation, Sen. Gbemisola Saraki has frowned at the decaying state of the port infrastructure at Tin Can Island port, Lagos, describing it as detrimental to the nation’s economy.

The Minister who on Monday visited seaports in Lagos for an on-the-spot assessment of the nation’s major ports expressed disappointment at the collapsed and expired state of the quay at the Tin Can Island Container Terminal (TICT).

Collapsed quay at TinCan Port

Addressing the Minister, the Managing Director of the terminal, Mr. Etienne Rocher said a 2017 study had shown that the port’s  quay had expired.

“An incident occurred in 2016 when we had a reach stacker going through the deck and it collapsed. So, we conducted studies and discovered that the infrastructure had outlived its lifespan. Since the infrastructure expired, there has been no remedial or palliative measure that can be done because cargoes are still being handled at the ports.”

“Also, because of the seawater, the holding structure has been eroded and over 40 percent of the quay wall was affected as at the time of the report in 2017. Through the expert opinions of engineering companies, the only option proposed was reconstruction. If we try to seek another remedy, the result will be hastened collapse of the quay wall. This is because we would be applying immense pressure on a holding structure that is already heavily damaged”, the MD stated.

He also disclosed that the technical findings and design solutions for the reconstruction the quays were sent to Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Transport Ministry but the effort yielded no fruit.

“We have been in discussions and we are still deliberating with NPA. We have come up with proposals and technical design solutions not only this perimeter, but the entire Lagos ports, that is Tin Can and Apapa. The design solution which we have reviewed is part of the full business case and a strategic modernisation plan that has been submitted early this year,” he stated.

Responding, the Minister who described the seaport as one of the main engine rooms of the nation’s economy said the dilapidation of its critical infrastructure is detrimental to the entire nation and promised to immediately look into the anomaly.

“Let’s be very frank. It’s a bit sad that Tin Can Terminal has taken it upon themselves to find a solution. Palliative won’t work anymore. We need to find a long-term solution to this problem. This is just one terminal. We’ve seen another terminal with the same challenge. We need to take a holistic approach to solving this.

“Tin Can is one of the major ports that we have. As I’ve said earlier and I’ll keep repeating that the port is one of one main engine rooms of our economy. So dilapidated ports are not going to engender economic growth. We need to ensure that we take a holistic approach as soon as possible. And I assure you that we will.

“The President takes ports seriously and you know our government is about infrastructure. So, I assure you that we are going take it up while we come out with a solution.

“As per the repair, you don’t stop everything to do and start again. It’s done in conjunction and round to ensure that businesses continue. That’s one of the problems because it’s not just a segment.

“Finding a solution, we will be able to do that without necessarily stopping everybody the Ministry is going to sit down to discuss the solution with the experts. This discussion will proffer solution without necessarily hindering activities in the Terminals”, the Hon. Minister stated.

Earlier, the Minister who also inspected the Lagos Port Complex expressed hope that by next month the port quays would be linked to the standard gauge to ensure easier evacuation of cargo.

Her words;

“We are here to look at the issues affecting activities to connect the rail to the Apapa seaport. As you can see, the construction of this standard gauge has been ongoing for more than two years and I came here to inspect the activities.

We want to ensure that before the end of next month, the activities here have improved. By the end of this month, we want to ensure that the removal of this Customs facility which is on the rail track is resolved. The goal is to have this track operational by the end of this month.”

She added that the building housing Customs Scanner at the port would be demolished next month to allow the linkage.

“Although this building looks big, it is actually a minor issue that will be resolved by the time the Federal Ministry of Transportation, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) sit together to discuss it.

“It has been agreed that the building is going to be demolished but the fact is that it is a radioactive facility. It is a scanner and we have to ensure that the demolition is done safely”. Saraki stated.

TNMN reports that the Minister is on a five-day tour during which she would be meeting with critical stakeholders.

 

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