By Uchenna Eletuo
Some importers on Friday appealed to the Federal Government to open up the seaports in the Eastern flank of the country to decongest ports in Lagos.
The importers said that the designation of the Calabar, Port Harcourt and Warri ports for cargo transaction would bring the perennial traffic at the Apapa Ports to an end.
Recall that the Senator representing Anambra North in the National Assembly, Sen. Stella Oduah, have consistently called for the establishment of a minimum of three inland container ports in the South East as well as the full opertaion of the existing one.
Oduah had insisted that it is economically unwise and a burden on the nation’s transportation infrastructure for all businessmen to go to Lagos to clear their containers of imported goods.
Speaking to our correspondent in Lagos, the traders corroborated that they were experiencing hardships in getting their goods out of the Apapa ports.
Mr Jude Okeke, an importer and also the President, Association of Progressive Traders (APT), Trade Fair Complex, Lagos, said the concentration of cargo import on Apapa ports negates the ease-of-doing business.
Okeke expressed fear over the unending traffic situation along the port’s axis.
“Do not be surprised that we will wake up one day and container-laden trucks will overrun the whole of Lagos city with no access roads for commuters.
“The Federal Government can do a lot of good to the importing public by opening up the other ports that have been fully utilized over time,’’ Okeke said.
Also, Mrs Vivian Akubueze, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Kudi Cosmetics, Lagos, said that it was not wise for cargoes laden with goods meant for Eastern Nigeria to berth at the Apapa ports.
Akubueze said that such cargoes with its goods should be routed to the ports in Calabar and Port Harcourt.
“Common sense ought to tell us that when cargoes transporting goods meant for other parts of the country berth in Lagos, importers will pay additional money to transport their goods to their destinations.
“This will cause tear and wear to the nation’s road networks as well as push the cost of such goods up in the market,’’ Akubueze said.
She said that it had taken her about two weeks to get her goods out of the Apapa ports after the Nigeria Customs Service had released them.
She, therefore, appealed to the government to come to their aid and halt the rising cost of goods by allowing cargoes to berth in other ports apart from Lagos.
Also, Mr Gab. Ayodele, who deals in industrial chemicals, said that it cost him a lot to transport its products from the Apapa ports to Calabar where his clients were.
“If the Calabar port is functional, that will save me some cost and time,’’ he said.