Africa’s richest man, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, visited the Ijora-Apapa Wharf road in Lagos on Wednesday, calling on the Federal Government to withdraw agencies causing the perennial gridlock in Apapa.
He cited the presence of the Nigerian Customs and the Nigerian Navy on the road, saying the customs, especially was causing untold hardships to road users in its bid to collect revenue at check points.
The Apapa-Iganmu-Wharf areas have been on lockdown since the past three years and the problem appears to have defied every solution.
Dangote lamented that check points mounted by the customs, navy and other agencies was causing the gridlock, making life unbearable for motorists.
He said that the presence of customs men on revenue drive on the road was taking on businesses and killing the economy of Lagos, Nigeria’s economic hub.
“We are going to formally write to the government to withdraw all these task forces, especially the Federal Unit of the customs.
“If they want to set up a road block, I think this is the wrong place to come and set a road block.
“Customs should not be coming here and mounting a check point.”
“We are pleading with government to remove all these task forces and leave just the police, LASTMA and the FRSC. These are the only three that we need.’’
The tycoon assured that the Apapa-Wharf reconstruction project would be completed on schedule around June ending, saying that the work was progressing faster than he anticipated.
“Now, my impression has changed, AG Dangote is actually doing an excellent job.”
He lauded the quality of work being funded by Dangote Group, Flour Mills of Nigeria and the Nigerian Ports Authority.
Dangote explained that utilities in the right of way of the project had initially slowed down work but that engineers had evolved a design that solved the problem.
The business mogul said that people were not aware of the revenue loss caused by gridlock, explaining that the cost of the gridlock to the economy was 20 times the cost of the road project.
“The entire road is costing about N4.3 billion.
NPA is giving about N1.8 billion; the rest of the money, which is N2.6 billion is going to be given free of charge both by Flour Mills of Nigeria and Dangote.
“But I must also caution: the cost of the road is not N4.3 billion because we got our own construction company to do it,” he said.
The Group Managing Director of Flour Mills, Mr Paul Gbededo, told newsmen that the gridlock had posed severe difficulties for both big businesses and small ones in Apapa.
He said that the economy of Apapa was generating over N20 billion a day and that the gridlock was causing huge revenue losses.
The Managing Director of AG Dangote Construction Company Ltd., Mr Ahif Juma, said that he had deployed 140 men to site, to ensure that the project would be completed on schedule.
“Some of the men would work on night shift, seven days a week and we would work 24 hours.”
“Now, we have about 39 to 40 per cent completed and by end of June, July, we should be able to finish work,” he said.