The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has lamented that over 30 toll points manned by security personnel, where bribes are allegedly being collected before trucks are allowed into the Port, had sprung up around the Apapa and Tin Can Ports.
This is as the NPA has met with the Lagos State Government on strategies to tackle the persistent gridlock around that axis and measures to curb corrupt practices and alleged extortion of truck drivers by traffic and security operatives along the Lagos Ports corridor.
This disclosure is contained in a statement issued by the General Manager, Strategic and Corporate Communications, NPA, Olaseni Alakija, who quoted the Acting Managing Director of NPA, Muhammed Bello-Koko, as harping on the need to strengthen enforcement of traffic laws along the Apapa and Tin Can Ports roads.
The statement said that Bello-Koko told the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, NPA has been receiving several complaints of extortions, especially by security operatives, and described the menace as a hindrance to the smooth implementation of the truck call-up system.
What the Acting Managing Director of NPA is saying
Bello-Koko, in his chat with the press, said the focus was on the alleged extortion by security operatives, adding that NPA solicited the government’s intervention to check the menace.
He said, “At the NPA, we resolved to take the right punitive measures against any of our staff involved in this; we have moved some of them out of Port locations. We will do further reviews, whoever is found involved, will be appropriately sanctioned.
Because of the involvement of several security units, many checkpoints have been created; we believe there are over 30 checkpoints within the Apapa and Tin Can Port axis. We believe that this is a major issue causing delays and a whole lot of problems, so this was one of the concerns we raised at the meetings.”
He said he had issued a directive to the “ETO” Project Consultant and operator of the Lilypond Truck Transit Park to redouble their efforts, especially on the deployment of necessary physical and IT infrastructure as well as adequate human resources, to address the gaps and complaints of a delay from Port users.
He disclosed that NPA had ordered the TTP company to immediately deploy infrastructure, so as to reduce the waiting time of trucks in and out of the Port.
The NPA boss further said that the meeting discussed poor access roads, especially around Sunrise Bus-stop leading to the Tin Can Port.
He said, “Trucks going to Tin Can now use the Apapa Port road, so no matter how much you control the traffic in Apapa, it will not be noticed.
NPA has reached out to the Federal Ministry of Works; we have been speaking with the Director of Works in the State, and we have asked that they should provide some palliatives around Sunrise Bus-stop.
We were made to understand that the contract for that section of the road has just been awarded, but because of the rains, work has been delayed. There is a need for that part of the road to be graded so that the Tin-Can Port corridor will begin to enjoy some measure of free flow of traffic.
We have stakeholders like Dangote and others who have factories within the Port and each of them may need to bring in about 300 trucks daily, but it has to be done in such a way that their operations do not affect the need of other Port users.
The governor has promised to further engage the Commissioner of Police in Lagos; he has also directed LASTMA to keep the Port roads free of congestion.”
Bello-Koko was quite optimistic that the renewed collaboration with the Lagos State Government would bring an end to the perennial gridlock within and around the Apapa metropolis, adding that trucks not registered would not have access to the Port.
On his part, Governor Sanwo-Olu, according to the statement, was quoted as saying that the Lagos State government would work closely with the NPA toward the success of the truck call-up system while calling on all port users to be alert to their responsibilities toward ending the gridlock in Apapa.
What you should know
The gridlock at the Apapa axis continues to defy solutions despite efforts by the Federal and Lagos State Governments.
As part of measures to resolve the gridlock around the ports axis, the NPA had launched an Electronic Truck call-up system, ETO, designed for the management of truck movement and access to and from the Lagos ports.
This is to also help complement the drive for a business-friendly and secure environment for port business in Nigeria.
During the implementation of the new system, 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.