There are strong indications that the cost of imported goods may rise following the rising cost of haulage of cargo at the Apapa port in Lagos by over 500 per cent in recent times.

Importers, yesterday, expressed worry over the latest development occasioned by the gridlock in the area.

The importers alleged that truck drivers have hiked their charges per container from the sea ports in Apapa to warehouses in Lagos from N120,000 to N700,000.

They wondered if they could cope with the sudden hike, stressing that only a few months ago, haulage of a 1×40 container was N120,000 while 1×20 was transported for N80,000.

President of the Association of Progressive Traders (APT), Jude Okeke, of Trade Fair Complex, Lagos, said the prices of goods will continue to go up if drastic action is not taken by government.

“Before the traffic congestion that has become synonymous with the ports’ access roads, it was easy to bring cargoes to the markets with little transport fare but right now the story is different. The increase will be shifted to the consumers.

“Today, the thought of having one’s container berthing at the Apapa Wharf sends shivers to one’s spine because of the trouble associated with such venture,” Okeke said.

He said importers might be compelled to use neighbouring countries’ ports to ship in their cargoes.

The APT president pleaded with the Federal Government to open up other sea ports in the country to decongest the Lagos ports and make transactions easy for them

Mr Emeka Amadi, Chief Executive Officer of Glory Land Shippers, who also spoke on the increasing cost of hauling cargo, said the Apapa road had defied all known solutions.

He said: “Even the Presidential Order given some weeks ago by the vice-president is temporary as the containers have lined-up in the area, blocking every available space.

“That is why the price of transportation of cargo is on the increase. You do not expect somebody’s truck to be on the road for days without the person charging money to cover for the days,” he said.

The chairman, Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO), Dr Remi Ogungbemi, however, in a swift response said the development was sequel to the pull and push in market forces, particularly the Apapa gridlock which pushed up prices, rather than a deliberate act from his members.

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