The Organised Private Sector (OPS) has thrown their weight behind the new electronic call-up system by the Nigerian Ports Authourity (NPA).
The group affirmed that the e-call up, which is scheduled to start this month is a step in right direction, that will help to ease the congestion on the road.
Speaking to our correspondent on the new system, the Director General, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN); Mr Segun Ajayi Kadiri noted that the introduction of the electronic call up system will save the country about $10 billion agricultural products that are wasted annually.
Kadiri, in a chat with our correspondent, said the success of the scheme will bring a great relief to manufacturers and all stakeholders, even as he added that it will be a major, if not the single most important success story for ease of doing business and cost of doing business in Nigeria.
He further informed that, it will remove the estimated N140 billion naira weekly economic loss and another $10billion agricultural products wasted annually.
He averred that the challenge of access to the port and port congestion has had a paralyzing effect on manufacturing in particular and the national economy in general.
The MAN DG acknowledged that the federal government had made several interventions, including setting up a task force to tackle the menace of traffic congestion and embarking on road reconstruction. He however said the evidence today is that these have not resolved the embarrassing situation.
Kadiri also lamented that MAN members are daily confronted with the harrowing experience of long wait for their containers to be cleared, an excruciatingly tedious time for pick-up and yet a tough deal getting out, adding that all these with the attendant high cost have added to the cost of transportation.
He noted that the concept of truck e-call up solutions is not a new phenomenon, because it has been mentioned before by government and private companies as possible solution to the perennial and seemingly intractable bedlam the port situation has become.
He however, said coming from the NPA and judging by the likely cooperation of Lagos State, and the anticipated cooperation of the security agents he said the private company that is executing this project may succeed.
He added that the success of the scheme will bring a great relief to manufacturers and all stakeholders.
When asked if he foresee any challenges with the e-call up system, he said, "well, I am excited by the prospects of success and therefore should ordinarily say I do not see why it should not work”
"But history is always a good teacher to the discerning mind. And the factors that led to the failure of previous attempts at ameliorating the chaos might rear their ugly heads again.
“Poor and inconsistent implementation may be a major albatross. Pushback from entrenched and vested interest, including those who benefit from the current confusion and disorder is another possible challenge”
"These devious economic saboteurs have over the years, created and perfected a flourishing business of extorting money from port users, especially the truck owners and importers. The brazen impunity with which they carry on this ignoble business is amazing. So, to disconnect their tenacious hold may take some strong political will and commitment and I can only hope that we have this in sufficient quantity at this time", he said.
Overall, he said the e-call up is a welcome development while commending the NPA for this long awaited solution and urging the agency to ensure that they make it work.
He added that starting the scheme at the same time that the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) is starting could significantly enhance the country chances of having a beneficial engagement in the emerging African continental market.
On his part, the Director General of Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry (LCCI); Dr Muda Yusuf said the e-call up is a step in right direction while urging compliance.
He said: “I believe it’s a step in right direction, we hope it will help to ease the congestion on the road, and we also expect to see that anybody that is not called up has no business being on the road, but what is very important is the implementation or execution of the call up systems, because it’s one thing to have an initiative on paper, it’s another thing to ensure compliance
“So, a lot needs to be done to ensure that there is compliance, there is also a lot that needs to be done to ease the processes within the port itself in other to avoid backlog, we also need to address the issues within, issues with documentation, processes with customs, shipping companies, cargo handling; all these things are important, so the solution has to be integrated because if you deal with the problem of call up and you don’t deal with the problem of enforcement and compliance and processes within the port, then we may not achieve much, so it as to be a holistic approach in other for us to get the desired result from this initiative”, he said.