Apapa Gridlock: Presidential Taskforce Winds Down, Says Sanity Restored

The Chairman of the Presidential Task Team set up two weeks ago to remove trucks from port access roads and restore sanity and former Commissioner of Transport in Lagos state, Mr Kayode Opeifa, has said the team has achieve the goals set out in its terms of reference outlined by the federal government when it was set up.

Opeifa, stated this at a joint press conference with the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) and other stakeholders in the port over the weekend.

While praising members of the team for their effort at restoring sanity to Apapa, he stated that he was sure that if ongoing works on truck parks other truck parks are concluded and fully operational, the gridlock would be history.

According to him, “We believe you have visited Ikorodu road, Funsho Williams Avenue, Akpongbo bridge, Eko bridge, we have been able to completely take away trailer and trucks.

“From Ijora Olopa to Point road, we have been able to successfully remove trailers, tankers and containerised trucks stationary from that point up to the top of Marine Beach at about the decent to Lilypond Terminal.

“From our calculation, that is about a kilometer from the port entrance. We believe pending the operation of the Tincan Island Port, Truck Park A, that is how far we will be able to go.

“Our assignment is predicated upon the fact that Truck Park A will be available, Trailer Part B,C and D would have been cleared by the Lagos State Government for us but they are still not available, it is a work in progress because it takes a lot of stakeholder engagement for us to clean it. “We don’t want to displace anybody from his normal means of livelihood. Our two weeks will end tomorrow (today), we have cleared 100 per cent Eric More, Funsho Williams down to Eko bridge, up to Ijora Olokpa and Ijora 7up.

“In terms of putting an end to extortion, truck removal from the bridge, deploying effective traffic management plan, deployment of appropriate call up system, it is predicated upon the availability and full operation of Lilypond Truck Terminal, which is available for us now courtesy of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and it is going to be the point from where we will have the call up implementation.

“From the top of Marine Beach to Lilypond is truck rout, but empty containers can now pass through to go down and enter Lilypond from where they come out.”

On his part, General Manager Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), Wale Musa, said his men have so far impounded 120 vehicles warning that they are ready to fully enforce the law.

“I want to appreciate the truckers’ union for their cooperation. We were able to restore sanity because the unions were with us; we had a lot of voluntary compliance.

“That said, we have apprehended more than 120 vehicles who did not comply with our directive and that is because we have not fully enforced the law. We urged the union leaders who are here to tell their members, they should not test our will.

“We are ready, we are on ground, you might not see us during the day be we are there at night when people don’t get to see us. We are ready for the challenge and our men are on ground to do the job, “he said.

The General Coordinator, Council of Maritime Truck Unions Association (COMTUA) and General Manager Operations, Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), Steven Okafor, urged the federal government to immediately extend the tenure of the Presidential Task Team warning that, not doing so would worsen the situation.

He said: “We cannot compare what the task team achieved in two weeks to any effort put in place in the last few years. We are requesting that the task team tenure be extended so that they can completely sanitise the system.

“Without that we will go back to where we were or even worse, we need to stabilize what we have now and sustain what they have achieved. Government should please help us and make sure that they extend their tenure.”

Weak Investor Appetite Drives Bond Yields Higher

Investors’ interest in the domestic bonds market was weak last week, which led to bearish performance, with average yields expanding 41 basis points (bps) week-on-week at the close of market on Friday.

The market had a bearish outing last Monday (+9bps), Thursday (+22bps) and Friday (+10bps).

According to analysts at Afrinvest West Africa Limited, looking across the term structure, the short-term instruments with less than one-year maturity witnessed the most sell-offs as yields surged by 148 bps week-on-week, while for the medium-term instruments, yields rose by 32bps.

Similarly, yields on long-term instruments inched up by 20bps. Despite the relative calm in the bonds market of late, Afrinvest analysts were optimistic of investors’ sentiment which would favour long-term instruments and drive yields lower.

At the Sovereign Eurobond space, there was a sustained bullish performance for the fifth consecutive week as yields on all instruments moderated week-on-week, save for the Kenyan 2019 instruments whose yield rose 10bps and would be maturing this month.

“As seen in the past weeks, the Zambian 2022 and 2024 Eurobonds still enjoyed the most buy interest with yields shedding 200bps and 190bps week-on-week.

“This was followed by the Kenyan 2048 and Ghanaian 2049 instruments with yields that pared 90bps apiece.

“For the corporate Eurobond instruments we track, the bullish momentum persisted as yields fell across the board except on the Access 2021 instruments which inched higher by 80bps.

“The Ecobank 2021 saw the most buying interest with a 90bps decline in yield. Ecobank issued additional 8.25% 5-year Eurobond instruments worth $50m which would be consolidated to form a single series with the initial 9.75% April 2024 bonds issued in April this year.

“The issue was oversubscribed by 4.6x and the proceeds would be used to strengthen liquidity and for general corporate purposes. We see sustained bullish performance going forward as investors take advantage of attractive yields in emerging and frontier markets, especially given the increasing prospect of rate cuts in advanced economies,” the report stated.

Meanwhile, the CBN continued its interventions last week, with forex sales of US$294.7 million in the retail secondary market and CNY31.43m in the spot and short tenor forwards segment of the inter-bank foreign exchange market. Accordingly, there was exchange rate stability in all segments of the forex market.

Although the external reserves were unchanged from last week at US$45.1 billion, analysts argued that the prospect of further accretion through oil exports was weak given that oil price at US$62.3/bbl had moderated 16.6 per cent from its year-to-date high of US$74.7/bbl. as at mid-May 2019.

In the same vein, the CBN spot rate traded flat all week to close at N306.95/US$1.00. Similarly, at the parallel market, rate opened at similar levels (N361/$1) and traded flat all week.

On the other hand, at the Investors’ & Exporters’ (I&E) forex window, the NAFEX rate opened the week at N360.18/$1 but depreciated by 57kobo to close at N360.75/$1 on Friday.

Activity level in the I&E Window improved as total turnover advanced by 46.7 per cent to $728.4 million, from $496.5 million in the previous week despite the two-day holiday. At the FMDQ OTC futures market, the total value of open contracts of the naira settled at US$8.9 billion, US$256.2 million higher than US$8.7 billion in the prior week.

The MAY 2020 instrument (contract price: N362.28) received the most buying interest in the week with additional subscription of $85.7 million which took total value to US$419.2 million.

On the other hand, the MAR 2020 instrument (contract price: N361.98) was the least subscribed with a total value of $598.12 million.

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