Investigations by Shipping Position Daily have revealed a plethora reasons the electronic call-up system of the Nigeria Port Authority (NPA) collapsed barely one month after starting on a positive note.
Recall that the NPA had launched the electronic call up system in February, allowing only trucks with e-ticket to access the ports through the use of the Lillypond Truck Transit Park (TTP) where truckers are charge N10,000 for the use of the park.
Checks by our correspondent however confirmed that the e-call up system seems not to be the final solution to the Apapa gridlock, following the mirage of challenges that have bedeviled the electronic call up system.
You will recall that three weeks ago, Lagos State Special Traffic Management Enforcement Team, said it uncovered scandal involving counterfeiting of call up tickets, tagged; “Eto” by truck drivers and owners.
The development, it was learnt was responsible for the initial failure of the e-call up, even though stakeholders had blamed lack of proper sensitization and illiteracy of the drivers for it.
The e-call up failure got to a head last week, prompting the NPA to issue fresh guidelines which affected export –laden containers. They were banned from accessing the ports for two weeks.
Justifying the action, the managing director of NPA; Hadiza Bala Usman said: “We found that a lot of export cargoes start approaching without documentation and this has been challenging for us in terms of readiness of the terminal operators to receive them. They also have several Customs certificates and Central Bank documents they need to complete.”
Responding to the move, the Chairman of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines, and Agriculture, Export Group, Kola Awe, said exporters were not happy with how the NPA abruptly stopped export cargo movement.
He said: “First of all, the major problem with the suspension is the abruptness, unexpected nature that the suspension came in. We all went home on Friday only for you to wake up on a Monday to find out that export cargoes had been suspended.
“Policies are meant to be anticipatory. If we anticipated that NPA is having problems with the e-call up system, every exporter would have made arrangement to plan. To plan in terms of warehousing, loading, plan in terms of trans-shipments and other contingencies.”
“A lot of contracts will be terminated. Penalties and claims will be made on exporters. Quality will be impacted upon. There is no way you keep goods in a container for too long, they will a reduction in the quality of the good processed for exports.”
In a chat with Shipping Position Daily, a truck owner and member of the Committee of Maritime Truck Union Association (COMTUA), Alhaji Abdullahi Inuwa had blamed the illiteracy of the truck drivers for the hiccups the electronic call-up system, while calling on NPA to carry out proper sensitization of the system for truck owners and drivers.
Speaking also recently with our correspondent, the President of Africa Professionals Freight Forwarders and Logistic of Nigeria (APFFLON) Otunba Frank Ogunojemite, had also called on the NPA to translate the eto app to various languages while also blaming lack of proper sensitization of its users for the failure.
Shipping Position Daily also recalled that truck drivers under the aegis of the National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) had accused Hitech Construction Company Ltd, a construction company rehabilitating the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, as being part of the impediments frustrating the electronic call-up system.
This is even as stakeholders have lamented the negative impact of oil tankers operating around the Mile 2 axis to Tin Can Port.
Reacting to the menace of the tanker drives, they argued that without regulating the oil tankers through the e-call up platform, the traffic congestion around the Mile2 to Tin Can axis will be difficult to get rid of.
Speaking to our correspondent over the weekend, a clearing agent and member of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) Mr. Emeka Nworie said: “It is not just the trucks that need to be regulated through the e-call up, I think they also need to do something regarding the oil tankers.
“The Federal Government should also empower the NPA to regulate the tankers too, they are the cause of the traffic, not just the trucks alone”, he said.
Also last week some truck drivers under the auspices of Tin Can Island Transporter Operators said that the electronic call-up system has failed to address the gridlock, alleging that the process was fraudulent.
To that effect, they began on a three-day protest to draw attention of the federal and state government to the anomalies affecting the electronic call system.
The truck owners who also threatened to withdraw their services from the nation’s seaport if the concerned authorities failed to yield to their demands displayed various placards some of which had messages such as: “NPA must provide truck parks,” “Check activities at Sunrise Bus-stop,” “We reject garage select approvals.”
The coordinator of the transportation group, Sylvester Keshinro, who addressed the crowd at Tin Can Island Port second gate said the presence of security agencies along the Mile2-Sunrise corridor posed a serious menace to the operators and the new call up system.
Keshinro, who is also a chieftain of Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria, also alleged that, the various holding bays designated for trucks were allegedly extorting truck owners with unimaginable and arbitrary charges.
He lamented that operators of designated holding bays charged the truckers as high as N180, 000 after using their facilities for 48 hours.
Another transporter, Patrick Okonkwo explained that the e-call up was not supposed to attract additional cost from the truck operators, but added that the designated holding bay collect additional money after 48 hours.
This is even as the federal government has denounced attempts by some entrenched interests to sabotage the new electronic call-up system introduced by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to solve the protracted Apapa gridlock.
Speaking with the media on behalf of the federal government in Lagos, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Mr. Hassan Bello rallied stakeholders support for NPA.
He also commended NPA and its ingenuity at deploying technology to solve the problem that seem to have defied all solutions.
He called on maritime stakeholders to be patient with the system, adding that innovations are associated with progressive phases for success.
All efforts to get the reactions of the operators of the new system; TTP Limited over the mirage of challenges were futile, phone calls put across to management were not responded to as at the time of filing this report.