The House of Representatives has accused the presidential task force set up to decongest the Apapa port of extortion and worsening the gridlock in the area.

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The House asked the Federal Government to ‘immediately disband the Presidential Task Force on the Ports Access Roads, having outlived its usefulness and for participating in extortion and contributing to congestion of the ports access roads’.

It also urged the Federal Government to pay attention to the construction of access roads linking seaports in the Apapa area of Lagos State.

The House specifically asked that a greater part of two months revenue generated by the Apapa Port, TinCan Island Port, Kirikiri Lighter Terminal and PTML be committed to the construction of all the access roads for optimal revenue for the country.

In addition, the House urged the Nigerian Ports Authority and relevant security agencies to halt extortion activities going on at the ports and the access roads.

These are parts of the resolutions passed at the plenary on Wednesday following a unanimous adoption of a motion moved by a member, Mr Leke Abejide.

The Presidency had in May 2019 set up a task force headed by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo to clear up the gridlock in Apapa and its environs within two weeks.

The task force had in November claimed that there was no gridlock in Apapa, but an ‘in-port congestion’.

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The PTT Vice Chairman, Kayode Opeifa, at a virtual dialogue held by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, debunked media reports about traffic congestion in Apapa, referring to it as non-recurring traffic.

Abejide, while moving the motion, noted that the House Committee on Customs and Excise recently embarked on a week-long oversight of Zone A of the Nigeria Customs Service Command to ascertain the level of revenue generation and the challenges, as well as to find a way of addressing them using Customs budget of 2021.

He said, “So much anomalies were discovered that if not tackled headlong, the Nigerian ports are at the risk of imminent and total collapse.

“Businesses, commuters and residents along these access roads see hell on a daily basis as they are subjected to nuisance, pollution and emissions to the environment.

“Due to the challenges of inaccessibility to ports, it takes an average of 60 days to do a turnaround of a container, whereas should there be easy access to the ports, the turnaround within Lagos should not be more than five days.”

He said the implication was that the country was losing an average of five times the revenue it should have made if the access roads were good.