Stakeholders’ engagement key to solving Apapa gridlock – CILT

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The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) Nigeria held its 2018 National Conference and Annual General Meeting in Lagos. The President of the Institute, Mr. Ibrahim Jibril on the occasion addressed the press on the theme of the conference, the challenges of the institutes and how they were surmounted in the last two years of his administration and going forward, what the institute would achieve in the next two year of his second tenure. Our correspondent was among at the venue of parley and filed in this report. Excerpts;

Could you give us the overview of the CILT conference here today?

Basically, this year, as you can see from the theme of the conference, we are talking about trucks. First, how trucks contribute to the freighting of cargo in Nigeria and how it contributes to the economy. And like I mentioned earlier, virtually, it takes care of more than 80% of the movement of cargo within Nigeria but our biggest concern is that it is virtually unregulated, it comes with a lot of mishaps, it comes with a lot of inefficiency and it comes with a lot of wastages that we believed that can be addressed and we are calling on government to see how they can all come together with all stakeholders to see how this can e addressed through meaningful and very effective policy that can change the situation that we have today.

You have seen that it is a subsector of the transport sector of the economy that can definitely create a lot of employment, generate wealth that we have not seen before. But if they are not organized, we cannot achieve that.

You also talked about the fact that it actually takes an average of 168 hours for a truck driver to drop empty container at the port. How did you arrive at that figure?

That is what we are seeing because you can see for example, when there is a queue of trucks going into the port, you can see it is as long as getting into the middle part of Ikorodu Road and you can imagine somebody on the queue that is at that end around Anthony or Ilupeju and he is coming to enter the port through the winding streets of Ijora through Apapa and getting to the port itself. That takes him about that period of time and it is not like he keeps moving, there are times he stays in one place for two days without movement and two days is already 48 hours and then they move a little and they stop. The situation has been so precarious that the wastage in man hours is unprecedented and we believe that should not be the case.

I am aware that the government through the Nigerian Shippers’ Council is making some moves to introduce some Standard Operating Procedures for truckers and also to regulate the freight rate but on the other hand, the truckers are saying that there are factors that determine the charges. What is your perspective on this?

What we expect is that Shippers’ Council will bring stakeholders together and we will all discuss it, there is nothing that should be hidden. If there are charges that are there and they are obvious, then they will come into play but if there is none, we do not expect operators to impose charges on shippers that will be out of place because at the end of the day, whatever the charge a shipper pays is what transcends down to the consumer and that is what we want to avoid. The consumers must not suffer for this and people should not extort Nigerians just like that. We should be able to determine clearly what are the charges that come into play so that we can determine what the charges will be like and Shippers’ Council I will call on to organize a stakeholders’ forum where everybody will see everything clearly and then we come to a conclusion.

Sir, one of the fall out of the discussion is that a regular haulage company should have about six trucks. How does this impact on the effectiveness of the industry?

What we are experiencing today is quacks operating in the industry and what I always say is that everything should be regulated and standardized and if you are really an investor in this area, what do we expect? That you will do meaningful investment not that you carry one and half trucks, what I mean by one and half trucks is that one is working, one is half working and half not working and then, at the end of the day, the goods of the people are left on the road and some of them are perishable of course and then you can imagine the damage and of course, if the trucks are not serviceable that much, there will be problem.

It is just like operating in the aviation industry, I don’t see people making meaningful investment when they are operating only one aircraft or two aircrafts as an airliner. So, it is better for people to have a meaningful investment so that we can say yes, these people can really do the job and they have the means to do it and that is why there is that call that people should have about six or more trucks in order to operate as truck operator.

You talked about formulating to address this menace but in a situation where the government agencies at the ports are working at cross purposes, each coming up with its own solution as opposed to the other and at the end of the day, none is working. How can we make formidable policy under situations like this?

It is not only the government agencies, I think all the operators both in the public and private service are all working at cross purposes. Why? It is just because we have not come together to say this is the standard mode of operation and that is why we are having this confusion. And the bottom line of this is like I have mentioned before, quacks are managing quacks in the road transport industry. How of these companies can you confidently say that they have professional transporters and logisticians managing their business? It is actually very few and that is why today, people consider road transport business as bad business because they never succeed and why don’t they succeed? Because the professionals are not there.

I challenge the operators to show me the professionals that they have running their company or managing their fleet. They are very few and as long as you don’t professionalize, you will continue to have this problem. That is why we are calling on them to come and partner with the institute so that we professionalize the people who are operating in the industry so that some of these things are minimized.

As a professional in the logistics sector, if you are given the task of addressing this Apapa gridlock, what are the things that you will look into first?

There is no one person that knows it all. The first thing I will advise will be that we bring all the stakeholders together and let us hear what are the challenges of each and every person because this is like a multimodal arrangement; the maritime is there, the road transport is there, why don’t we bring the rail transport into it so that we address the issue.

We have tank farm operators here, those are very key stakeholders that should come into this situation, they should come and we discuss with them, all of us will come together, if the NPA is doing it right, what are the tank farm owners doing? Are they getting it right? If the investors have invested, what are their managers doing within the tank farm?

We have witnessed cases where trucks are being loaded with petroleum products and they keep leaking as they go along the road. How did they get out of those tank farms in that condition? How were they even loaded in the first place in the tank farms if they are not good vehicles? There are standards for operation, I have mentioned it time without numbers that even the quality of the vehicle or trucks that are being used are questionable. There is a standard construction requirement, for example, the metal sheet that is used in constructing these tankers should be at least 5mm gauge metal sheet. What is being used today? Go around and you will see that 3mm is being used which is below standard. Even the construction of manhole, there is a standard that is allowable for it in such a way that when a truck topples over, nothing will come out of that truck, you can come and evacuate your product without losing it and without causing danger to the community or the surroundings that it happened.

But now, even without it toppling over, petroleum product is coming out of the manhole and that is source of danger. Trucks that are moving with exhaust that is on high temperature, you can imagine what will happen when you have a truck that is leaking and leakage is close to exhaust which is at a very high temperature and in an environment that there a lot of oxygen, what comes next? Combustion! And that is why we continue to have fire outbreaks.

I think this is a situation where we must bring everybody together, we must listen to everybody, the situation has degenerated to the level that we must listen to everybody and all stakeholders must collaborate, there is nobody that can do it alone, I assure you.

A lot of expectations have been on the CILT bill before the National Assembly. Can you tell us where you are now?

Too many expectations, I agree with you. We have pushed it very far and I am happy to say that we have gotten the CILT bill up to the presidency and now we are waiting for assent by Mr. President. Hopefully, if Mr. President sees it as worthy of regulating and instilling discipline in the logistics and transport industry, I am sure he will append his signature there and very soon, that victory will come on our table and then that will be the beginning of a new regime of the logistics and transport industry in Nigeria.

What we intend to achieve by that bill is to ensure that Nigerians have quality logistics and transport practice in Nigeria, to ensure that operators operate in the highest standard of operation in Nigeria, to ensure that Nigerian economy benefits maximally from the logistics and transport industry as it were today.

Over the years, there have been issues of certification in CILT and before you came on board, that was one of the problems you wanted to tackle. Can you tell us where you are now on the issue?

Do you hear such issues anymore? I don’t think you have been hearing of such issues anymore. Before, we used to have some little gaps between Nigeria and our CILT international office in UK who are the overall regulators because CILT itself is global, its certification is global, so, there is a central location for the regulation and standardization of this certification. It is because we used to have some little gap with regards to communication and that was why we had those challenges. But we have sorted them out now and now we are on the same page with the CILT international and I assure you, everybody now has his certificate as and when due.

Some people have advocated for trucks to move at night. How will this impact on the fortunes of the industry?

You know, situations make certain regulations to come up midway. Because we have that chaotic situation, that was why it was done like that. In some climes, you could even see some dedicated lanes for trucks; nobody follows that lane on the road except the trucks. That has required that that is done in that clime.

Now we are not in a position to do that and maybe that is why we are having a restriction as to the time of the movement of trucks but as we begin to improve, that will give way to trucks moving at every time because what we intend to achieve in the economy is efficiency and if you continue to restrict the movement of goods when there is scarcity somewhere, of course, it will worsen the situation. Except and unless we flood the market, have the product everywhere, then such restriction should not come into play.

CILT has been on the vanguard of promoting professionalism in the sector, what have you done to encourage women to participate more in the sector?

Let me start by saying that globally, today, we have the women’s wing of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport and we call them, Women in Logistics and Transport, in short, WILAT. I want to assure you that WILAT was first founded in Nigeria by a Nigerian and we propagated it across the globe and today, we are proud to say that we have the presence of WILAT in about 20 countries of the world and they are waxing stronger and I assure you, it is all in a bid to encourage the women folks to professionalize the more so that we can have them participate.

We have many of them as practitioners but they are not professionals, we want them to professionalize so that they can compete with every other professionals in every region of the world and that is the effort we are making.

Some new members were inducted at the conference, what message do you have for them?

It has always been that as a member of the institute, you should uphold professional ethics. To be a member of a professional body is like being a member of a cartel. It is only when you have such requirements that you can belong there, if you don’t have them, you don’t belong there and they will not even elect you. So, now that we have elected you as members, that means you have that requirements to be here. We will continue to watch so that you continue to practice in the best way or manner that a professional should practice.

So, we call on them to uphold good professional practice so that the industry and Nigeria will continue to benefit from their expertise.

It is almost two years now that you emerged as the president, what have you been able to achieve and going forward because it is clear you want to seek re-election, what do you intend to achieve?

A lot has happened, we have talked about WILAT now, we have talked about the bill before the National Assembly and it has gotten to the presidency. Now, there are so many programmes that we have initiated and ran and intend to sustain, the NPDP programme and of course, international programmes that we have attended and we have hosted one in Abuja, the Africa Forum and that was all in a bid to develop the capacity of people, give them better skills in order to carry out their professional practice not only in Nigeria but on the African continent. Those were the achievements we have gotten.

There are many more things we want to achieve. Of course, we have created visibility, we said want to make CILT in Nigeria more visible in Nigeria and I assure you we have done that because by making ourselves more visible, we have been recognized more by government. We are always being included in Ministerial Committees and Presidential Committees; we have been part of the committee that reviewed the National Transport policy in Nigeria. Right now, we are also part of the committee that is developing the Lagos state transport policy as at now, even the licensing regime of the Road Safety and Road Directorate Services; we are fully involved in it and off course on the Board of many institutions like the Nigerian Institute of Transport Technology, Centre for Logistics and Transport in the University of Port-Harcourt and many other ones.

And I think we have done quite a lot in terms of visibility, professional training, education because we are graduating so many. Some of the people that we are electing as our members today are graduands of our programmes who have gained from our training providers and we have continuously make sure that our training providers are operating at a high level so that the standards are not compromised.

Of course, going forward, there are many things we want to achieve, we have not achieved the bill yet. So we are going to go out strongly again to see that it is done. Of course, we are going to continue to up the game in terms of training and education so that we have more Nigerians that are trained as professionals because I always say it, it is a profession that you discover over 50%, in fact almost everybody is affected by this profession, so, why can’t everybody has an interest in it?

Of course, there are many things we want to do in terms of growing membership. Right now, I have been told, so many places like Kano, Kaduna, Lokoja are coming forward to open branches even in Borno if not for the security challenges that we have had recently. Benue state too, they want to come up with a branch. So, we growing and we want to grow so that we are in every location in Nigeria because there is logistics and transport wherever you go in Nigeria.

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