Nigeria’s economic gateway: The issue with Apapa

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IT was once a beehive of both commercial and social activities in the 1990s. The reason for this was not far to seek: It was home to Nigeria’s two major seaports and the popular Apapa recreation park. But today, it is a pathetic shadow of its glorious past. Apapa, Nigeria’s economic gateway, has degenerated into a deplorable state, with its collapsed roads and its residents perpetually ensnared in intractable gridlock on daily basis which has crippled businesses and led to relocation of businesses and residents out of the area. The two critical roads, Wharf Road and Apapa/Oshodi Expressway which lead to the nation’s major economic gateway have become a sort of nightmare to port operators, commuters, motorists and the general public following daily gridlock on the roads. This situation has been blamed on many years of neglect by both Federal and Lagos State governments. The story of Apapa in the past few years has remained that of economic losses and business failures linked to loss of quality man-hour on the road leading to low productive capacity. Productive capacity The estimated loss to the economy has been put at  N140 billion, with an average of N20 billion daily. Reports further showed that Apapa accounts for more than 80 per cent of all import and export activities in Nigeria. Lamenting the gridlock and its implication to the economy, President of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, recently noted at a media forum thus: “Apapa is both an embarrassment to the country and a huge loss of close to N140 billion to the government on a weekly basis. The economy loses more than N20 billion daily because the state of the roads affects businesses across the country. All our operations in the hinterlands such as Ilorin, Kano and other areas are operating at 40 per cent maximum capacity”. Report also has it that in 2016, Nigerian Customs Service generated N898 billion as revenue for the Federal Government, and this was less than the N904 billion generated by NCS in 2015. This reduction, according to a source, was due to difficulty in accessing foreign exchange and the removal of the 41 items which forced down the level of activities within the ports. He pointed out that the bulk of revenue generated by Customs annually comes from the two ports in Apapa. In fact, Senate’s investigation on Nigeria’s port sector revealed that Nigeria has generated about N37 trillion from  the sector over the years. Senate’s investigation further showed that the port sector can actually generate revenues to finance the country’s budget conveniently for six years. According to the Senate, Customs alone generates over N800 billion annually, but the government finds it difficult to deploy N11 billion, which is a meagre fraction of the N800 billion to carry out repair works on these roads leading to the two ports where these revenues are being generated.

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