· We have engaged stakeholders—-NPA MD
Barely four weeks into the commencement of the electronic call-up system being introduced by the Nigerian Ports Authourity (NPA), there is a confirmation that the service comes at a fee payable by truck owners.
This confirmation was made by the head customer service of operators of the call-up system; Truck Transit Park Limited, who simply identified herself as Temi. She told our correspondent that, all haulage owners and clearing agents are expected to register on the platform, in other to move their consignment out of the port.
Explaining how the call-up will work, she said: “If you are a transporter you go on the web, you register your company, if you are an agent you do the same. All stakeholders, shipping lines everyone is expected to register on the platform. For transporters, you have to register the details of your trucks and drivers, so that when they have consignment to pick at the port, they can then do their booking online, for the (clearing) agents, once he has his TDO, he will go on and match the truck to an approved park and then the transporter’s truck would have been matched to an holding bay , so from the holding bay the truck moves down as scheduled into the port and if there is no space in the terminal where the trucks is going to stay, the other trucks won’t be allowed to go in until the terminal has released for others to go in”.
When asked if there is any fee payable for using the e- call up, she informed that the only truck owners are expected to pay for the use of the truck park.
For instance, she said at Lillypond park, a sum of N10,000 is expected to be paid before the truck can be allowed into the park.
“The trucks will have to pay at approved parks and the park owners will charge based on the park, if you have a consignment at Lillypond, the cost is N10,000”, she disclosed.
But, speaking to Shipping Position Daily last week, the Managing Director of Nigeria Port Authority (NPA) Hadiza Bala Usman explained to our correspondent that the deployment of the e-call up will help remove human interventions, thereby ensuring transparency and accountability in the port system.
Recall that NPA recently announced the launch of Eto, an Electronic Truck call-up system designed for the management of truck movement and access to and from the Lagos Port Complex and the Tin Can Island Ports in Apapa.
NPA had stated that, “all trucks doing business at the ports will be required to park at the approved truck parks until they are called-up into the port through the Eto app.
The Eto app will be responsible for the scheduling, entry and exit of all trucks into the ports with effect from 27th Feb. 2021, it said.
The NPA had also appealed to all truck drivers and owners to download the app or sign up for the system online before the commencement date to enable them to register accordingly.
But, explaining last week, the NPA MD said: “We are commencing the e-call up deployment, there have been extensive discussions, stakeholders have been engaged within the last three to four months for discussions about what the e- call up entails”
“We believe that electronic deployment will help to remove human intervention in processes, we are all familiar with the challenges we have with the port access road; the several layers of rent-seeking that exist across agencies and security agencies that superintend over that area. So the e- call up will remove that human intervention, and in so doing we are going to create a dashboard for everybody to see how the trucks come in and go out, so that transparency and accountability will further ensure that there is an above board system” she said.
The clarifications came just as stakeholders in the nation’s maritime industry expressed divergent views as regards the electronic call-up system.
However, freight forwarders, truck drivers and others in the maritime industry have expressed divergent views regarding the e- call up system.
The Western Zone Coordinator, Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Mr. John Oforbike said that, irrespective of whatever system NPA is introducing, it is likely not to work except corruption is removed from the system, he stated that the e-call up will most likely not work due to those benefiting from the corrupt system.
According to him, “whatever system they want to introduce, call it e call-up or z call-up, until you kill corruption in the system, nothing will work, wait and see because some people have benefited so much from the corrupt system and they can do anything and go to any length to make it fail”.
Speaking also, a member of the National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO); Abdullahi Inuwa also expressed doubt about the success of the e- call up. Inuwa noted that for the e-call up to be a success, there is need for shipping companies to have holding bays where they can receive empty containers, he noted that without the holding bays the e-call up may likely not fly.
“For the e- call up to be a success, it is important that shipping companies provide holding bays; with that if the shipping companies adhere, then the e-call up can be a success, but without the holding bays it will be difficult for us to say the e-call up will be a success, the absence of the holding bays is a major issue” he stated.
On his part, the Public Relation officer of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) Mr. Stanley Ezenga, although noted that the e -call up is a novel innovation that will greatly reduce the Apapa traffic gridlock if handled properly, but he also expressed skepticism about those who will be in charge
In his words, “the e -call up by the NPA is a novel innovation that will greatly reduce the Apapa traffic gridlock if handled the way they demonstrated. However, the Lagos State Government has announced the restriction of articulated vehicles during the day.
“With this double-barrel approach, definitely Apapa gridlock will be a thing of the past. But, we know about what happens with any new government agency's policies”.
On his part, the ANLCA National Secretary, Mr. Babatunde Mukaila was optimistic that the e- call up will minimize corrupt practices and consequently help ease the tension on the port access road.
“I am confident it will minimize the brazen corrupt practices by the security personnel and consequently help ease the tension on our port access road. All foreseeable bottlenecks are of Nigerian factors that can be dealt with as it occurs”, he said.