Following efforts by the Presidential Task Team on decongestion of Apapa traffic to ease the port access roads of gridlock and to ensure free flow of traffic, the shipping companies and terminal operators operating in Lagos ports have agreed to extend their demurrage free period from five to ten days just the terminal operators have also agreed to extend their storage free period from three to eight day.
The Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Barr. Hassan Bello who disclosed this on Friday said they were expecting the shipping companies to further extend the demurrage free period to twelve days for ninety days arguing that this would also make truckers not to come out at once to deposit the empty containers to the port.
Bello said,” There are lots of sacrifices made; NPA has been on the issue for a very long time. Shipping companies have also make sacrifice, they have extended the demurrage free days from five days to ten days and they still could do better. We are expecting them to have twelve days demurrage free period for ninety days. I think that will also make people not come out at once to deposit the empty containers.
“The terminal operators have also made sacrifices, the free days have been extended from three to eight days and I think that that is wonderful so that they don’t charge demurrage until the eight days. Of course, the truckers, we need them to be disciplined because that is the human angle I am talking about because without discipline, we cannot achieve anything”.
While stating that 60% of the problem was lack of proper traffic management and lack of discipline, he however appealed to the truckers, the unions as well as the drivers to follow the procedures adding that the call up system, manual at first would be decided in no time whereby trucks would be called only when they were needed so that not everybody would rush to Apapa and then migrate to electronic call up system.
“The NPA is leading on this and all the concerned parties that are involved, shipping companies, the terminal operators, they will start meeting on Tuesday to articulate this. Already, some terminals have their own call up system, so, we have to latch on such programme. So, this simplification of procedures and processes will help in easing the traffic congestion. There must be cooperation, synergy between all concerned including the Lagos State government that has been able to participate in this and we expect more participation from Lagos state government. The Police here, LASTMA, many agencies and when they come together and talk amongst themselves, I think the problem will be solved. It is gradual.
“For the infrastructure, you have seen the road being constructed, we have taken you round, the moment we have that, most of the issues will go and then the processes, we have holding bay, we have the trailer park, they are going to be available. The Lilypond has already started courtesy of NPA and this will of course militate against the traffic overflow on roads leading to and from the port. We have also private parks, Shippers’ Council has been able to identify about 54 of them, some will be put to use and once we have combination of all these, then , you will see that we will have sanity on the road”, he explained.
On number of trucks still on the road despite presidential directive to rid the port access roads of trucks within 72 hours, he said, “Trucks must be on the road in Apapa otherwise we will not have that port economy but what we want is orderliness, what we need is a very effective system that will be orderly, that will be cost effective, that will have in sight the ease of doing business and also the cost of doing business.
“So, you should as journalists support the effort of this committee and I think sustainability is also important. It is not for us to see the trucks go and then tomorrow you see them come back, no, we are developing sustainable system whereby it will go on forever in small time, in no small measure, when you see the combination of infrastructure, processes are coming up, the human angle is restored, then we will have a very orderly and cost effective traffic management system in Apapa and the problem of congestions will be a thing of the past”.
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