The gridlock hurting business at Nigeria's busiest port | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 05, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:10 AM, February 05, 2018

The gridlock hurting business at Nigeria's busiest port

Even okadas, the motorcycle-taxis that buzz fearlessly around Nigeria's commercial capital, Lagos, struggle to negotiate the road to Apapa -- the country's busiest seaport.

Riders pick their way gingerly around giant potholes that resemble blast craters, and among the lines of stationary trucks perched at precarious angles on the rutted surface.

Getting to and from Apapa -- the catch-all name for Lagos' two seaports of Apapa and Tin Can Island -- has increasingly become a nightmare for pretty much everyone.

Now, with the chronic traffic jams hurting business and no sign of any swift resolution to the problem, labour unrest is looming large on the horizon.

The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) has given the federal government an ultimatum: fix the roads or face an indefinite walk-out.

MWUN leader Adewale Adeyanju said an open-ended strike by its members would paralyse port activities but they had no alternative.

"The road is now a safe haven for criminals, who use every opportunity to attack, assault and rob innocent Nigerians, including our members, who trek to and from work daily on the road, because it is no longer motorable," he told AFP.

As well as security, he said shipping companies and businesses were increasingly using alternative berths such as those in Cotonou, in neighbouring Benin.

"While our neighbouring ports are booming, our ports have been deserted because of the failed access roads to the ports, the gateway to the nation's economy," said Adeyanju.

Union leaders are due to meet the labour minister in Abuja on Tuesday. But it's possible that even then, oil tanker drivers like John Chinedu will still be waiting on the dilapidated highway.

"We have been at this same spot for the last four days and we've not been able to enter the port," he said.

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