By Godwin Oritse
A MARITIME expert and the former Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Temisan Omatseye, has described the chaotic traffic situation in Apapa as a product of the failure of the shipping sector in the country.
Omatseye who said this in a chat with Vanguard Maritime Report in Lagos also frowned at the idea of locating tank farms in Apapa, saying that the place was not originally designed for tank farms.
He lamented the long turnaround time of vessels in Apapa, even as he advised the government to open other places, so that vessels can be moved outside of Lagos.
On the tank farms, he said: “First of all, those areas (in Apapa) were not designed for those tanks farms. So, I believe that it was the failure of the infrastructure that caused those things. As a matter of fact the failure of the shipping industry, because, for instance to go in and out of Lagos, I don’t know what the situation is now but prior to COVID-19 it will take you between 10 to 11 days turn around”.
According to him, “my question is that if that becomes the case, if the government was sharp enough like what happened when they closed the Abuja airport and they opened a new airport, would have said, let us stop wasting our time, let us start moving products to Oghara, Warri or Koko, from those areas to Lagos is a seven-hour journey. Now is seven hours not shorter than 10 days and with these places you have a better route up north instead of coming to Lagos here. Or at worst, it is better to go up North from Calabar, that is why a lot of tank farms are there. So why must petroleum products come to Lagos”.
Omatseye nevertheless advised that petroleum products coming to Lagos should be for the state alone, adding that it is farther to come and pick products here to go to the north.
“We could have shared this and say all the products that are coming to Lagos should just stay here in Lagos and not necessarily South-West, because it is quicker to get to Akure from Koko. But guess what, people are coming here to pick products to these places because of insecurity and not managing our logistics very well”, he added.
The ex-DG, NIMASA admitted that there is draught restriction for cargoes going to other ports outside of Lagos, even as he reiterated that the major problem is the security issue.
“We already know what the issues of draught are, but no matter what you can take products there, RainOil is milling in, so a lot of cargoes are going there and they carry 10,000 tonnes each. So you can still take 10,000 tonnes which is that same size that goes to Ibafo. Yes, there is a draught restriction, but the major problem is the insecurity. Once you increase the cargoes in this area, naturally the security will increase and the level of attacks will decrease” he concluded.