·Security Officials Have Collected Money To Pass Us, We Must Enter Today—Truck Drivers
The Nigeria Port Authority (NPA) much-expected electronic call-up system suffered delay on the very first day of its take-off.
Our correspondents who were on ground to assess the take-off observed that the Lillypond Truck Transit Park (TTP) that should serve as take-off point for trucks going into the port was totally empty, even as our correspondents observed construction is still ongoing at the TTP.
Shipping Position Daily observed on Saturday that despite the warning issued by NPA and the Lagos State Government that trucks should vacate the port premises, there was heavy presence of trucks from the Berger Cement area down to Tin Can Port Area of Apapa.
Also at the old ‘Mr Biggs’ area on Creek Road, our correspondent witnessed heavy queue of trucks awaiting to go into Apapa port, while one of the security head attached to the premises, who was identified simply as Mr Giwa addressed the truckers to get their trucks off the road informing that no truck will be allowed into the port, except through the e-call up.
The truck drivers were however adamant as they insisted that they have paid money earlier to security agents for them to get pass into the port.
Despite warnings to get their trucks off the road, some adamant truck drivers drove straight to the port prompting Police officers to shoot into the air to disperse them and LASTMA officials brought in their towing vehicles to tow some trucks away.
When confronted, one of the enraged drivers told our correspondent that, “yes we heard about the call -up, but we can’t just turn back, because the security officials have collected money to pass us in to the port, some of us can’t just turn back like that, we have paid, this is my eight days on this road and I have not been allowed to go into the port, we are not saying we won’t comply, but let them allow us in, after all they have collected money from us, so let them allow us in, then after they can stop”.
Meanwhile our correspondent also observed that from the Apapa port gate down to the Ijora axis of Apapa, the road was void of trucks except for few tankers.
At the Lillypond transit park, there was heavy presence of security personnel, as the Director Maritime Services at the Federal Ministry of transportation; Mr. Auwal Suleiman was found on ground observing the level of preparedness of the transit park.
The Director noted that there is need for the construction of the road that leads directly into the transit park, because of heavy duty trucks.
Speaking to our correspondent, regarding the unpreparedness of the transit park, an official; Mr. Temidayo Adeboye said the e- call up was delayed as a result of some trucks that are yet to vacate the adjoining roads that lead to the facility, even as he expressed optimism that the e-call up will begin in ‘a few hours’.
He explained that: “With the introduction of the e call up system, this place is not a truck park; it is a pre -gate to enter the port. What that means is that any truck that enters here should spend between one to four hours, maximum and we usher it into the port. No truck is supposed to sleep here overnight”
“To start the e -call up system, they have to cu-off the manual call system. So there is a plan to cut off manual system from 12 midnight that everything from Area B should be allowed into the port and everything behind should go out.
“So when the port caters for all these traffic, we will now inject the e-call up system. We have not started the e call up system, because there are some roads that lead to the port that have not been cleared within the port and by the time we start the e call up system, and trucks can’t pass, so there is no point”
“We are thinking of bringing in trucks here, so immediately things get to shape and the system starts, we can start to push, I was talking with GM now, he said in the next one hour when APMT can clear what they have, I can start pulling in trucks, so we are targeting that the first few trucks will start entering port about five to six, which is the plan.”
Our reporter also tracked down the General Manager Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) Engr. Olajide Oduyoye , who informed that the success of the e-call up depends on everyone.
He said: “LASTMA is prepared, but to be honest, the success of both the Lagos State Government and Nigerian Ports Authority even the business sides, that is the Shippers Council, the truck owners and everyone depend on collaboration, cooperation and truthful and transparency”
“There must not be any hidden agenda. LASTMA as an enforcement agency has a sole mandate and the mandate is that all the public roads around the port must be free from static stationery vehicles. It doesn't matter whether it is private cars, trucks or whatever it is.
“The roads are meant for moving traffic and is available for anyone to use and not specific. And in that order, based on agreement with Lagos State Government and NPA is that we are fully ready, we've got men mobilized, we've got towing trucks stationed in different locations.
“Even from yesterday (Friday), we have stopped the movement of trucks in certain areas, normally that would have blocked the roads. We are working in collaboration with the Nigerian Police to give us security support. We will also appreciate even when a new order comes in in terms of like mopping things up, it is a gradual process and it is not going to happen in one day.
“Everybody begin to feel something new is happening, the day of hanging around extorting, bribing and other vices should come to an end”, he said.