“When agencies are reduced, I believe the level of corruption will be reduced in the port”
“The fee attached to the use of the garages is N10,000 only, there can’t be extortion”
Hajia Bola Muse is the current President Women in Maritime Africa, and Financial Secretary of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA). In this interview with Oluyinka Onigbinde, she speaks on the e – call up system of the NPA, role of women in the maritime sector and sundry issues.
What’s your perspective on the e-call up system of the Nigerian Port Authority?
The e- call up system is a fantastic one, in fact it is one of the best things that have ever happened to us in the industry. For your information, my company is one of those that were given approval to operate in this system. First of all, I need to commend the effort of Hajia Hadiza Bala Usman and her team for the great job they are doing in the industry, that is why people like us look up to her as a mentor and we key in into the system. This system is the only way that can ease the traffic situation that we are having both in Apapa and Tin-Can axis. So I believe with patience, it will work out well, you know Nigerians always want everything to be done overnight; which is not possible because this is a system that is coming up and it is new to everybody, we need to take time to understand it and mind you, the ETO has come to stay and there is nothing anybody can do about it. As we all know that without the ticket, you cannot access the port and at times, I keep wondering why these trucks are out there, because the rule is the moment your ticket is given to you, you have to wait at your park to be called-up before you access the road. Why are the trucks then on the road, for what? You cannot leave the park without the e- call up. They have to wait and the moment you leave the park; you go to the pre-gate which is Lillypond, that is the rule. I see no reason why everybody will want to be on the road, why can’t you just understand what is happening and let peace be and I believe with time things will take shape.
But already some have labeled the e-call up a failure, what do you think about this?
Whoever says it is a failure must be a joker, do you understand me, it is not a failure; the issue is that we need to follow the due process which is the key. I have already explained here, we have the rule, why can’t we just abide by the rule and follow up. You can imagine the first time we started this, that was February 28 when the e-call up took-off there was no truck on the road, I feel there are some factors we need to bring out to make sure this matter is settled amicably.
Can you point out some of the factors?
The issue is, we have to make sure that the drivers are sensitized by the truck owners, they need to know that the moment you have the ticket, it does not justify you to be on the road, there is need to wait to be called-up before accessing the road. Look at how they messed the whole place up, without the ticket you cannot access the port, so what are you doing on the road. I wonder why the drivers are always in haste to access the port, why can we just make things work for once.
There seems to be buck-passing between the truckers and the oil tanker drivers over who is the cause of the traffic, what’s your take on this?
The oil tankers are the cause of the gridlock around Mile two and Tin Can axis; there is no doubt about that.
Do you also think there is need to regulate the oil tankers with the e-call up?
I think there is need to regulate them, I must commend the effort of Messrs TTP, they have been doing a fantastic job because the gridlock is giving them constant headache, there is no time they don’t go through this teething problem. The tankers are part of those that cause traffic on the road, we have the trailers, containers, sided body, flat bed cargo and oil tankers and I believe there are places assigned for these people which boils down to the fact that everyone cannot be on the road. There is an assigned area which serves as pre-gate for these people to go in, why can’t we be attentive and corrigible in other to make things work in this country.
Some truck drivers have alleged that private garage owners are extorting them?
I don’t know what they mean by they are extorting them; if the garage they are talking about are part of those given approval from NPA, it means there will be nothing like extortion, as there is a fee attached to it and that’s N 10,000 only. The money is not going into the private garage account, but the TTP account so if anybody is asking them for money, if they give, that means it’s at your own will, because we keep saying it, it is on all the platform of the transporters that the fee is N10,000 naira only. In my own park, we charge N10,000 and it’s not more than that , because there is a receipt for payment, you can’t give me N20,000 and I will give you a receipt of N10,000 , how will I explain that?
And the money is not going into my account, but TTP account, that is why they said , generate this thing by yourself and ours is to match for you. You aren’t giving the money to us, why it may seems the money is given to us is if you can’t generate it yourself , you pay to us and we assist to generate and match for you, so I am not aware of any other charge, aside this.
Recently, the Executive Secretary Shippers Council, Mr. Hassan Bello said that there is corruption in the port, especially among government officials, do you also agree that there is corruption in the port?
There is no country without corruption, it depends on the angle it is coming from, the issue is that ours is just too obvious. What I am after is the reduction of government agencies in the port, when these agencies are reduced, I believe the level of corruption will be reduced in the port.
As a registered member of CRFFN do you think the council has met up to its expectations?
The little I know about CRFFN is that, they have done the best for themselves.
As the president of WIMA, Nigeria chapter, can you tell us some of the challenges faced by women in the sector?
Number one challenge we are facing is lack of access to fund; we need money to sponsor most of our members for training, because we are here to build capacity. I just came back from Sierra Leone for a training which was organized by ECOWAS and UNDP to train women for capacity building. Another challenge we face in Nigeria is lack of sponsors and the government is not looking at our direction for training and we need a lot of training, we need to be acquainted with what is happening in other countries. About four of us went to Sierra Leone from Nigeria and that is the awareness, if there is no fund, there is no way we can take awareness to the people. Also our members need to mix with their counterparts to see what is happening in the other places, because we need to build ourselves to see what is happening outside the Nigeria maritime sector.
Do you think the government has given women the capacity to take charge?
They have not done that, and we are still clamouring for that and we still want the government to do more in terms of building capacity for women. I give kudos to NIMASA, NPA and Shippers Council. The DG NIMASA is a women-supporter and he is always there for us likewise Hassan Bello, these people are really doing their best, but I want them to do more for the women.
In the freight forwarding where you come from, do you think women are given enough capacity to express themselves?
Not at all, may be because our voices have not been heard enough and I need more support from the