The Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Shippers’ Council (NSC), Barr. Pius Akutah Ukeyime said the Council has launched an ambitious plan to overhaul, revamp and rejuvenate the Port Standing Task Team (PSTT) to combat the persistent challenges of port access road congestion.
This came to light even as the Managing Director of Tin Can Island Container Terminal (TICT), Mr. Etienne Richer alleged the existence of 16 checkpoints within the Tin Can Island Port access alone.
Recognizing the dynamic and multi-agency nature of the PSTT, Mr. Akutah confirmed the departure of several members from the team, even as he expressed the need to redefine the team’s focus and structure to ensure it aligns with the sector’s current needs.
The Executive Secretary informed that the Council has an internal enforcement unit dedicated to this specific task. He however revealed plans to empower this unit and facilitate collaboration with the PSTT to optimize their joint efforts in addressing the congestion challenges.
Furthermore, Mr. Akutah emphasized that the NSC’s approach to resolving the port access road congestion is holistic and comprehensive stressing the NSC’s commitment to providing a new impetus to the task team.
In his words: “If you say the PSTT has gone to sleep, I don’t think it’s correct, because the PSTT is still working. There may be some minor challenges, but when I came on board, they briefed me, and I took their briefing, and we are still talking, and we’re trying to see what we can do to even improve that task team.
“Most of the members at the moment are no longer on board and you know it’s a multi-agency thing. So we need to re-drive it and refocus it, so that it can achieve the mandate that it had. Nigeria Shippers Council internally has a unit that is focused on that. We have the enforcement unit, which has the responsibility to do that. We’re trying to see how we can empower the enforcement unit to collaborate with the PSTT to see how that work can be effectively done.
“Besides that, like I said, it is not a pick and choose thing to settle the access road congestion. No, we are looking holistically”, he explained.
The explanation came even as the Managing Director of the Tin Can Island Container Terminal (TICT), Mr. Etienne Richer, expressed the importance of road, over barging and rail transportation of cargo. He also highlighted the recurring issue of roadblocks around the Tin Can Island port area.
Richer pointed out that during official visits of top politicians to the port environment, the roads miraculously become clear, indicating that the problem of congestion on port access roads is solvable. He stressed that having free and accessible roads is crucial for improving the ease of doing business.
The TICT Managing Director also raised concerns about the numerous roadblocks and checkpoints around the port area. Citing statistics, he informed that results from satellite maps produced since 2016 till date identify approximately 16 roadblocks or checkpoints in the Tin Can Islands port area with eight roadblocks within 300 meters from TICT gate to the roundabout at the Eastern side of Tin Island.
Richer however emphasized the need to balance security constraints with the importance of facilitating smooth transportation.
“Barge and Rail will always remain secondary to road access. There is a need for road navigation. What is interesting is that when there is an official visit, whether it is a Minister, Vice President and above, by miracle, the roads clear up the day before and the day after, they are back. So, it means it is solvable. There is no doubt about that having free roads would definitely have a major impact on ease of doing business”, Richer noted.