The Story Of The Amazing Apapa-Oshodi-Oworonshoki-Ojota Expressway
The Apapa seaport is an old port that was founded in the early 15th Century. It served the old Oyo Empire and it’s estimated 500,000 Slaves may have been shipped from the old Apapa Port to the Americas from the West African coast.
Today, the Apapa Port is the biggest port in Nigeria. More than half of the Nigerian maritime trade passes through Apapa quays and it might shock some Nigerians to know that it is a transhipment centre for inland countries like Chad and Niger. What that means is that goods going to these nations by sea offload their cargo at Apapa wharf and this shipment go over-land. This has been going on many years before the current administration. Therefore plans to build a rail track into Niger may not sound awkward after all.
Apapa Port houses five private terminals operated by AP Moller, ENL Consortium Limited, Apapa Bulk Terminal, Greenview Development Nigeria Ltd and Lilypond Inland Terminal. These specialised facilities have more than 10 berths for handling cereals, grains, machinery, construction material, and perishable items like foodstuff, minerals, fertilisers, flour, salt, sugar etc. Two flour mills and a processing plant are present on the port premises, close to the bulk terminals.
Crude oil and petroleum products are handled at the eight jetties. Fishing is important for the locals, hence the port has four fishing wharves for handling fishing boats. Coal is received at the 150 metre long Ijora wharf. Lagos port also has four tank farms for storing refined petroleum products.
The port’s container terminal spans 55 hectares and has a total quay length of 1005 metres. It has an annual container capacity of over 1,000,000 TEUs and 298 reefer connections.
A major factor that led to the creation of Apapa Port was the completion of the Western railway with Lagos as the main terminus, thereafter a need arose for a facility to load and discharge goods in either direction of Western Nigeria and the Northern provinces by rail to and from the port. But the rail project into the port was abandoned giving way to vehicular traffic. And as the port grew trucks became the preferred means of transporting goods to and from the port, parking on the roadside became a regular occurrence.
There was therefore, a need to build a major road. The Oshodi–Apapa Expressway was constructed between 1975 and 1978 as a major route to Tincan and Apapa Port and also a major route into the country from Murtala Mohammed International Airport. But as a result of neglect and so many years of usage without maintenance, portions of the road collapsed.
The Goodluck Jonathan led administration approved contracts for the reconstruction of the Oshodi–Apapa Expressway in August of 2013. The contract for the Oshodi–Apapa Expressway was granted to Julius Berger Nigeria PLC for N15 billion and a 15-month completion term. After the 2015 general elections, however, work on the road came to a halt.
On Sunday 11, August 2018, gridlock caused by a long queue of trucks extended from Mile 2 to Ijesa along Oshodi-Apapa Expressway; a distance of 14.2km, which usually takes 37 minutes (drive time); trucks parked on the road for days, thereby locking up the entire Lagos City with estimated population of 23.42 million persons (2018 projection figure). Industry experts adviced the Federal Government that the gridlock was costing the Nigerian economy trillions of naira annually.
The Buhari administration decided to intervene immediately. The contract for the rehabilitation of the road from Apapa to the toll gate on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway in Lagos state was approved by the Buhari administration in July 2018. The reconstruction project was awarded to Dangote Group, in addition, the government would grant the Dangote group a three-year tax exception. In 2018, the Federal Executive council approved N72.9bn for the reconstruction of Oshodi Apapa expressway road in Lagos.
The project is expected to be complete before President Buhari leaves office in 2023, however large sections of the new expressway is already being used by road users and commercial trucks. The Federal Government stated in April 2021 that the Oshodi–Apapa Expressway was virtually ready for use.
The road reconstruction has been divided into four sections to ease port congestion and gridlock at the Apapa axis. Section 1 which spans from Liverpool Round through Creek Road to Beachland near Sunrise is about 10 km, while section 2 is 8.4 km and spans from Beachland to Cele Bus Stop.
Finally, to get a clear picture of what this road looks like – the new Apapa Oworonshoki Expressway will be a major expressway connecting Nigeria’s biggest port to the rest of the world – from Apapa to Somolu via Surulere and Mushin in Lagos. It is a six-lane expressway with two one-way service roads parallel to the expressway. The expressway crosses other major expressways, Lagos-Badagry Expressway and Ikorodu Road. It also passes Tin Can Island, its starts from the Port of Lagos, also known as Apapa Port. The expressway will host some of LAMATA’s BRT stops. President Muhammadu Buhari in November 2018 released N73 billion to work on the road to immediately address the gridlock which was crippling the Apapa Port and Lagos City.
President Buhari administration has recorded another unrivalled Legacy Milestone.
Congratulations to Mr. President’s pragmatism.
Patriot Ata Ikiddeh
Consultant & Coordinator
President Muhammadu Buhari Legacy Projects