Investigation by Shipping Position Daily has revealed the real reasons behind the rampant illicit container stripping along the port access road at Tin Can Port.
Our correspondent who spoke to some truckers at the Tin Can Port discovered a covert strategy employed by truckers to sideline the Electronic Call-up System (Eto) ticket fees and bypass the time-consuming queues at the truck parks and garages.
This sharp practice is costing the Truck Transit Park (TTP) Limited a significant revenue loss, even though the truckers deny culpability.
But, investigations carried out by our correspondent unravel a booming container stripping business, involving truckers and owners of the trucking yards.
Confronted by our correspondent last week, many of the truck drivers denied involvement in the practices, they however affirmed that some drivers do so, in an effort to avoid Eto call payments and the long waiting time associated with the designated parks and garages.
This is even as some of the drivers alleged bribery between officials of NPA at the Tin Can port and the truckers.
One of the truckers who simply identified himself as Usman, told our correspondent that: “I don’t offload along the port access road, because there are yards for that, but some of the drivers maybe doing so, just to avoid eto call up system payment, or the hours they will need to spend if they are to go to the truck parks, so they do all these just to avoid all that”, he said.
When asked if the truckers bribe their ways to illegally strip on the road, he said: “Yes that cannot be taking place without the involvement of officials, the officials which include Police, NPA officials, LASTMA collect as much as N50,000 to allow them strip along the port access road” he alleged.
Another trucker, who chose to remain anonymous, also hinted at the possibility that avoiding Eto parks may be a deliberate strategy to circumvent fees payable to TTP. They questioned whether the illegal redirection of trucks was affecting the revenue that should accrue to TTP.
Also, in a chat with our correspondent, a member of the National Association of Maritime Transport Operators (NAMTOP); Mr Riliwan Bello, denied any knowledge of bribery involving Port Security Officers (PSOs) or any other officials at the port, but acknowledged the existence of illegal stripping along the port access road at Tin Can.
He said “Tin Can is a special place that operates strictly on some sort of capital arrangement. Our people want to cut corners, so even though there’s an arrangement with MOB (a truck park) for a stripping yard within, they still go on the road,” explained Bello.
Bello confirmed that the allure of illegal roadside stripping lies in the desire to bypass the Eto call payments and the extended waiting times associated with queuing at designated parks and garages.
He however emphasized the need for regulation rather than outright condemnation, stating, “The best way is to regulate the stripping activity, because our people want to cut corners, they will not wait in the garage, that’s why they still go on the road, “he said.
Findings further uncovered allegations suggesting a link between truckers’ reluctance to repay money to TTP and the redirection of trucks engaged in illegal stripping back to TinCan port. This raises questions about the financial implications for TTP and the revenue losses incurred due to the circumventing of established protocols.
You will recall that Mohammed Bello Koko, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), recently visited some of the stripping yards at Tin Can port and issued a stern warning against the illegal stripping of containers along the port access road, this is even as he vowed that any trucker that is caught in the act, risked being delisted from the eto platform that is controlled by the Truck Transit Park (TTP) Limited.
The NPA boss also noted that one of the problems is the tendency for trucks to linger after stripping, causing traffic disruptions.
He said the NPA has been vigilant in monitoring and preventing such occurrences. This is just as he further revealed that in the past, stripping took place along roads until a ban was implemented, and collaboration with the Police was established, to seize such items and penalize those found stripping containers on roads.