By Godfrey Bivbere
STAKEHOLDERS in the maritime industry are advocating for the formation of a committee by all the relevant players in the sector as the solution for the gridlock that has bedeviled the port community of Apapa and its environs.
The stakeholders are of the view that being victims of the effect of the gridlock in terms of economic and health concerns, they would take the issue seriously.
They are of the opinion that a meeting should be called, like that being championed by the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, at the end of the tenure of the Presidential Task Team, PTT.
They noted that there should be rules of engagement by all and sanctions on breach of the rules should be spelt out for all.
Speaking with Vanguard Maritime Report, former National Publicity Secretary of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents, ANLCA, Joe Sanni, said that the best way out is that formation of a stakeholders committee with a definite rule of engagement to manage the traffic situation in and around Apapa.
Sanni pointed out that once the rules of engagement are agreed upon by all, offenders cannot only be sanctioned but can also be taken to court.
In his words, “Stakeholders’ involvement in the management of the traffic problem around the port is the only solution. Do you know that with that document you can go to court because they signed it as an agreement?
“I have suggested this to the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman, and the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers Council, NSC, Hassan Bello.
“We know the problem and we know the solution but everybody is scared; no political will. If we all sit down, agree and put pen to paper, things will start working,” he concluded.
Similarly, the Secretary of the Containerized Truck Owners Association of Nigeria, COTOAN, Yaqub Kolawole, said the only solution is the formation of a stakeholders committee.
Kolawole said that the e-call up system seems not to be working around the Mile2 area because the tanker drivers are not involved in the present arrangement.
He noted that the present system is being manipulated for personal benefits, stressing the need for the proposed committee to spell out the sanction to be given to those who go against the rules of engagement.
According to him, “The e-call up system is not the same in Apapa and Mile2. It is working well in Apapa but in Mile2 there are a lot of problems. People are manipulating the call-up system, some people are going with even fake and they are in connivance with NPA staff, and the officials of the Nigerian Police on the road.
“They allow people pass as long as you have the call-up whether they are genuine or not. While some of us that have genuine call-up are at the approved pre-gate point waiting to be despatched from there to the ports, others are seeing us like people who do not know what they are doing.
“For instance, if a colleague of mine who has his truck on the road keep coming and going and my truck is parked at the pre-gate, it looks somehow.
“There are several pre-gates, one at the Army barracks at Mile2, another for export at Ojota and some others before the ports. According to the e-call up system you have to make sure you enter any of the pre-gates before you will be assigned with a Terminal Deliver Order, TDO, if it is a flat body, then your export container will be confirmed at that pre-gate before you will be sent to the port.
“All these are some of the problems we are facing at the Mile2 axis but the system is working to some extent in Apapa. The best way is that there should be a way to checkmate the activities on the road along this axis, check whether the call up is genuine or fake.
“It should not be just NPA, there should be other stakeholders that come together to form a task force, a formidable one to look into this,” he concluded.