Exclusive Interview: Government Should Build Holding Bay Along Ibadan Expressway – – Comrade Olalekan

By Ambrose Obioma Okehi

(News Emperor)

Comrade Alabi Olalekan, the General Manager AML Bonded Terminal, one of the fast growing bonded terminals in the country.
He is cargo expert and logistics nanager. In this interview with News Emperor, the straight forward minded fellow and easy going maritime expert was if the opinion that the Federal Government should build a holding bay along the vast expanse of land along Ibadan Expressway. Comrade Olalekan also spoke on the issue of border closure and other things. Have a good reading.

: How would you describe this recent development as regards movement of cargoes by barges?

Ans: “Well, when you talk about barge operation, you are talking about movement of containerized goods from the mother ports to the Inland Container Depots (ICDs) or off dock terminals through the waters, of course, it is the movement of containers through the waterways considering the challenges being encountered while using the road transportation.

“It is another way of bringing containers out the nation’s Seaports.
If you look at Apapa/Oshodi Expressway, it is jamoacked. Ijora/Apapa road is jam-packed. And it takes these containers a day or two to get to the terminals. With such development, you will discover that you finds it difficult to bring these containers to the off dock terminals. How many will you even bring to the off dock terminal with the situation of our roads? Because moving them through the berges, there Will be no obstruction of any kind on the waterways.

Q: From which of the jetties are the berges are being transfered to your terminal?

Ans: We use Medlog Jetty. Medlog Jetty is situated at Abulado area. We have

Ans: Last time you came to and while we were chatting I specifically suggested that that if the Federal Government can chose an expanse of land and site a holding bay at place like Ibadan Expressway. It is sites at the back of the river. So, they go the port, bring the containers (consignments) through the sea to their Jetty and from their Jetty we .I’ve them to our terminal by road.

Q; But when this berge operation started first at a time it was stopped by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) then. What do think that may had led to that suspension?

Ans: When they stopped it then, I have the believe and with the little information I had then that people abused that previllage. Yes, they were abusing the opportunity then. They were misusing it. That was why NPA then have to suspend that berge operation. At present, there is a lot of monitoring.

Q: When you say monitoring, what type of monitoring?

Ans: Yes, this time around, there is a lot of monitoring. The Marine Command if the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) and the Marine Police, the are monitoring the movement of these berges from the point of discharge at seaport to the jetties. And this is based on the available documents concerning the consignments on transit. These departments of these securitity agents are really a d thoroughly monitoring these goods and their movements. There are not just monitoring them but they (these governments agencies) make sure that the containers allocated to a particular terminal gets there without being tampered with. Immediately they are loaded, the manifests will be printed. These ecorts that will accompany them will cross check and confirm them.

Q: What about this regular issue or insinuation that most at times these consignments are transfered to the terminals without the concent of the importers or their agents. How true is that?

Ans: You see, from the time they containers were stemed from the vessels, the owners must have known where their consignments will be going to. The steming of containers may not have been done with the consent of the owners. But once they are stemmed, the owners will know. The owners would be notified. They will be aware that their consignments have stemmed to so so terminal. And he knows where to go and pick his consignment.

Q: Looking at the issue you raised about people misusing privillage the development created for their consignments to be moved through the waters without spending the usual three weeks they normally spend through the roads. What do you mean by that sir?

Ans: What I mean is this. You know, we have a lot of containers and all might not be allowed to pass through the roads
And people were discovered to have started moving containers illegally. You know Nigerians now. So some people diviated from the original thing to a means of beating the Customs. So, they discovered a way of beating the Customs, beating the NPA, event beating you.

Q: Okay, looking at the rail system of transporting these containers to these off dock terminals. Is there anything the government can do to decongest the ever busy port access roads. If there would be how would you wants that done?

Ans: Yes, there was a time I suggested something like this to you. You see, my idea in order to discongest this already Apapa traffick congestion Apapa area, especially Apapa/ Oshodi Expressway and divert the ideas if truck users to other areas.

Ans: Berge operation that was started by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) which is for the movement of containerzed goods makes the movement of goods easier and simple in the recent time. How would you describe this development?

Ans: “Well, when you talk about barge operation, you are talking about movement of containerized goods from the mother ports to the Inland Container Depots (ICDs) or off dock terminals through the waters, of course, it is the movement of containers through the waterways considering the challenges being encountered while using the road transportation.
It is another way of bringing containers out the nation’s Seaports.
If you look at Apapa/Oshodi Expressway, it is jamoacked.

“Ijora/Apapa road is jam-packed. And it takes these containers a day or two to get to the terminals. With such development, you will discover that you finds it difficult to bring these containers to the off dock terminals. How many will you even bring to the off dock terminal with the situation of our roads? Because moving them through the berges, there Will be no obstruction of any kind on the waterways.

Q: From which of the jetties are the berges are being transfered to your terminal?

Ans: We use Medlog Jetty. Medlog Jetty is situated at Abulado area.
So, they go the port, bring the containers (consignments) through the sea to their Jetty and from their jetty, we will move them to our terminal by road.

Q; But when this berge operation started first at a time it was stopped by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) then. What do think that may had led to that suspension?

Ans: When they stopped it then, I have the belief and with the little information I had then, that people abused that previllage. Yes, they were abusing the opportunity then before government had to bring another means. They were misusing it. That was why NPA then have to suspend that berge operation. At present, there is a lot of monitoring.

Q: When you say monitoring, what type of monitoring?

Ans: Yes, this time around, there is a lot of monitoring. The Marine Command if the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) and the Marine Police, the are monitoring the movement of these berges from the point of discharge at seaport to the jetties. And this is based on the available documents concerning the consignments on transit. These departments of these securitity agents are really and thoroughly monitoring these goods and their movements. There are not just monitoring them but they (these governments agencies) make sure that the containers allocated to a particular terminal gets there without being tampered with while on transit. For instance, immediately they are loaded, the manifests will be printed. These ecorts that will accompany them will cross check and confirm them.

Q: What about this regular issue or insinuation that most atimes these consignments are transfered to the terminals without the concent of the importers or their agents. How true is that?

Ans: You see, from the time they containers were stemed from the vessels, the owners must have known where their consignments will be going to. The steming of containers may not have been done with the consent of the owners. But once they are stemmed, the owners will know. The owners would be notified. They will be aware that their consignments have stemmed to so so terminal. And he knows where to go and pick his consignment.

Q: Looking at the issue you raised about people misusing privillage the development created for their consignments to be moved through the waters without spending the usual three weeks they normally spend through the roads. What do you mean by that sir?

Ans: What I mean is this. You know, we have a lot of containers and all might not be allowed to pass through the roads
And people were discovered to have started moving containers illegally. You know Nigerians now. So some people diviated from the original thing to a means of beating the Customs. So, they discovered a way of beating the Customs, beating the NPA, event beating you.

Q: Okay, looking at the rail system of transporting these containers to these off dock terminals. Is there anything the government can do also to decongest the ever busy roads. And like you rightly suggested some time ago that government can look for empty expanse of land like I places like Ibadan Expressway. How do you wants that done?

Ans: Yes, there was a time I suggested something like this to you. You see, my idea in order to discongest this already Apapa traffick congested area, especially Apapa/ Oshodi Expressway and divert the ideas if truck users to other aeaes.

Ans: What I was saying is this, if they can gazette some areas along the Ibadan Expressway. Because if you look. at your left and right, you will see expanse of land. Empty land everywhere. Let Federal Government develop concrete it like the way the port is concreted. Or like the ones they did a the terminals. The law will mandates the shipping companies that too is operating in Nigeria to have a stand there for loafing and offloading of empty containers.

Q: That is holding bays?

Yes, It will be for empty containers alone. That is what they call it, holding bay. What I mean is that any container that goes to Apapa, they should be going there to load, not to drop empties. And there wouldn’t be any congestion at the seaports or gridlock any more on our roadd. For instance, when you load finish there, you know your destination. And there wouldn’t be any truck waiting. When you load finish, you know where you are going and not to Nigerian Ports or seaports.

Q: The berge operation that was started by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) which is making movement of containerzed goods easier in the recent time. How would you describe this development?

Ans: “Well, when you talk about barge operation, you are talking about movement of containerized goods from the mother ports to the Inland Container Depots (ICDs) or off dock terminals through the waters, of course, it is the movement of containers through the waterways considering the challenges being encountered while using the road transportation.
It is another way of bringing containers out the nation’s Seaports.
If you look at Apapa/Oshodi Expressway, it is jamoacked.
Ijora/Apapa road is jam-packed. And it takes these containers a day or two to get to the terminals. With such development, you will discover that you finds it difficult to bring these containers to the off dock terminals. How many will you even bring to the off dock terminal with the situation of our roads? Because moving them through the berges, there Will be no obstruction of any kind on the waterways.

Q: From which of the jetties are the berges are being transfered to your terminal?

Ans: We use Medlog Jetty. Medlog Jetty is situated at Abulado area. We have

Q: Last time you came to and while we were chatting I specifically suggested that that if the Federal Government can chose an expanse of land and site a holding bay at place like Ibadan Expressway. It is sites at the back of the river. So, they go the port, bring the containers (consignments) through the sea to their Jetty and from their Jetty we .I’ve them to our terminal by road.

Ans: Yes, I suggested that and that is best way out of this present problem in the port industry.

Q; But when this berge operation started first at a time it was stopped by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) then. What do think that may had led to that suspension?

Ans: When they stopped it then, I have the believe and with the little information I had then that people abused that previllage. Yes, they were abusing the opportunity then. They were misusing it. That was why NPA then have to suspend that berge operation. At present, there is a lot of monitoring.

Q: When you say monitoring, what type of monitoring are you talking about?

Ans: Yes, this time around, there is a lot of monitoring. The Marine Command of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) and the Marine Police, they are all there monitoring the movement of these berges from the point of loading at the seaport to the point of discharge at the jetties. And this is based on the available documents concerning the consignments on transit.

“These departments of these securitity agents are really a d thoroughly monitoring these goods and their movements. There are not just monitoring them but they (these governments agencies) make sure that the containers allocated to a particular terminal gets there without being tampered with. Immediately they are loaded, the manifests will be printed. These ecorts that will accompany them will cross check and confirm them.

Q: What about this regular insinuation that most atimes these consignments are transfered to the terminals without the concent of the importers or their agents. How true is that?

Ans: You see, from the time they containers were stemed from the vessels, the owners must have known where their consignments will be going to.

“The steming of containers may not have been done with the consent of the owners. But once they are stemmed, the owners will know. The owners would be notified. They will be aware that their consignments have been stemmed to so so and so terminal. And he knows where to go and pick his consignment.

Q: You just raised an issue of operators misusing the privilege of the movement of containers through the waters considering what they pass through using the roads or the number of days they spend via the roads. What do you mean by that sir?

Ans: What I mean is this, you know, we have a lot of containers and all might not be allowed to pass through the roads
And people were discovered to have started moving containers illegally through the waters.

Q: The benefits of having a holding bay at such empty spaces along Ibadan Expressway as you suggested before?

Ans: It will be enormous and the levies can be paid quarterly or annually, depending. What I was saying is this, if they (government) can gazette some areas along Ibadan Expressway and site a holding bay there. When you are traveling along that you’re, look at left and right of that road, you will see very expanse of land (unused empty land) there. Let the government develop it and concrete it. The kind of concrete they do in the terminals. They will also develop a rail system linking the holding bay to the seaports.

“And after developing it, every shipping company in Nigeria must be mandates by a law to have their stand there. This will serve as the place for offloading empty containers. Also what I mean is this, any truck that goes to Apapa or Tin Can Island, will go there and load. Any truck that goes there, goes there to load. And when you finish there, you go straight to where you are going to drop your empty which is an opposite direction. Not the same direction again, nor through the seaport. You go there, you drop your empty.

Q: What about the issue of rail?

And: Every shipping company that has a stand there must have a levy that they should pay to the government either quarterly, yearly like I said earlier, depending on what the case maybe.

“It will be renewed the same way licenses are being renewed. And government will be generating revenue from there.
And not only that, a lot of businesses will even be developed area. There also will be job opportunities. And people will be building structures in that area. Businesses of various kinds would even be developed within the same area.

“Any truck that goes there is for loading and for any other thing will equally pay some token to cofferes of the government.

“What I mean is this, any truck that goes to Apapa, they go their to carry goods. But the moment you leave Apapa you are going to opposite not the same direction. You return your empty there. And every shipping company that has operates in Nigeria must have a stand there.

“Apart from government developing the area, individuals and a lot of businesses would sprang up around the area too. Some would be selling minerals, food etc. It will empower a lot of people. A lot of people would be engaged, doing one thing or the other.

“And every shipping company that has a stand there would be connected to the rail. And when they are loading, they would come and go through the rail.
And also there would be job opportunities for Nigerians.”

Q: Okay sir, the gridlocks with port access roads with greater reference to the Apapa/Oshodi Expressway. What do you think about this?

Ans: Maybe it could be the insisitivity of our leaders or their inability of our leaders to think deeply and solve this particular problem of these perennial traffic gridlocks, do you understand?

“You see, if they think critically about this matter I just raised now about government building a holding bay along the empty spaces along Ikorodu. Government can generate a lot of revenue from that project, create employment and directly solve this perennial traffic problems.

“So a lot of businesses would develop around such area, people selling recharge cards, people selling food and other business structures would spring up around the area.
It would empower a lot of people and a lot more would be engaged.

“And every shipping company that has a stand there and based on the levy they paid and because they have a stand and they are connected to the rail, they would come and go through the rails. Their empties would be loaded on the rail and moved to the holding bay. It will not affect our roads because the empties have nothing to do on the roads. Go to places like Ajegunle, a lot of empties are there blocking the roads.

Q: How would you describe the gridlock on Apapa/Oshodi Expressway. Should we say it is government’s insensitivity or what?

Q: You see, if government buy into the suggestion I have profered or you call it matter that I have just raised, Before you know it, a lot of businesses structures would spring up around there. Before you know it too, that that place they have been calling bush, will be developed. When Bishop Adeboye started the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG’s) camp, they said he build the camp inside bush but today that is so developed that it now linked to Ikorodu.
And because these shipping companies would be connected to the rail system, their consignments would be moved through the rails. They will not have anything to do with the roads. If you go to Ajegunle now, you will see that a lot of empties are lying there blocking the roads.

Q: The gridlock on Apapa Oshodi Expressway have persisted. How do you see that?

Ans: Well, maybe, I may call it government’s insensitivity or the inability of our leaders to think deeply and solve this particular perennial traffic gridlocks on Apapa roads. You see, if they think critically about this matter I have just suggested, there would be solution. For instance, they would generate revenue through that, they create job opportunities and directly or indirectly permanently resolve this problem of Apapa gridlocks. Equally, they would have developed that area they call bush. Yes, before you know it the place they are calling bush would become a commercial area. Before you know it it would develop. When RCCG started their camp there, it was just a small bushy place but now it has turned to another thing. Now RCCG’s camp has been linked to Ikorodu, do you see it? Before you know it the place has developed.
But why would the government close the border like that?
You see, we have to secure our country first. It was discovered that most of the weapons flying in and out of the country are coming through the borders. Mostly Boko Haram and they shipped in these weapons through the land borders. That is one, two, the idea of closing the border has to do with the ban on the importation of rice and vehicles through the land borders. And you know it was meant to encourage the local producers of rice. So that at the end of the day people that are producing it locally will not be suffering while people that are bring it from other countries will be smiling to the banks. It was discovered that most of the bandits, the hoodlums and most of all these people, they shipped in their weapons through the land borders. That is one, two, the idea of closing the land borders has to do with ban on rice and vehicles coming through the land borders. And the aim is to develop the local industry and encourage local producers. And their thinking is that the local producers will not be suffering while the smugglers and illegal importers would be smiling to the banks. That is one, and again, if we rely on the importation of these items and if the countries from where we are importing the have crisis, what are we going to do? It will affect us. So, it is better we produce our own and what if if those countries said no, we are not exporting again, what will we do? So, we will now be in shortage. So for us to prepare for future, and start developing our own to prepare for future.

Q: Looking at the econimic impact on the importers, the agents and other operators within the borders areas. What would you say about the that?

Ans: Actually, it has affected them economically. But this is because they solely relied on their activities over there for their daily living. And once it is. closed like this, it will have nagetive ecffects on the operators.

Q: AML Bonded Terminal is waxing strong and is doing fine and from the look of things and the business of operators, everyone really knows that a lot is happening here. How would you describe that?

Ans: The secret here, is our operations. Our system of operations are very smooth and seamless. We give our clients the best and what they want. Another thing is that as you can see from these agents, they like working here because we have no problem at all. We don’t have any issue. The agents are enjoying our services. They don’t have any course for alarm.

Q: Your advice for the operators out there and the reading public?

Ans: They should continue to patronize us. We need their patronage. They should increase their patronage.

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