Eto: NPA, Shippers’ Council watch as shipping companies, park owners rip off truck drivers

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While the electronic call up system otherwise known as e-call up has been described by the various port users and operators as a right step in the right direction, it may as well betray the purpose for which it was established if the inherent abuses noticeable at this early stage of the project by the relevant authorities.

This is because the project which is supposed to provide solution as well as ease the burden of the truck drivers, truck owners and other port users is fast turning into avenue for milking the truckers dry which in turn will add to the cost of doing business at the port and further worsen the hardship faced by Nigerians.

Investigation by Primetime Reporters revealed that the shipping companies and truck park owners may eventually sabotage the efforts of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Nigerian Shippers’ Council towards finding a lasting solution to the Apapa traffic menace which has defied many known solutions before now if their activities were left unchecked.

Speaking in an interview with this medium on Wednesday, a member of the Tincan Island Port Transport Operators, Alhaji Isiaka Olalere accused the shipping lines of not having functional holding bays in defiance to the directive by the NPA that all shipping lines should provide holding bays for receiving their empty containers from truck drivers.

While specifically accusing Grimaldi shipping line of not having a functional holding bay, Olalere alleged that truck drivers had to bring their empty container back to their (Grimaldi) terminal even when NPA categorically said they don’t want any empty container to come into the port again.

According to him, “Then, the Port & Cargo has one terminal at Abule-Osun. If you go there, before you will be able to get your container dropped there, you have to spend up to one hundred and sixty thousand naira (N160,000). They are there collecting that money there and if you have up to ten to twenty vehicles on the queue, before they attend to two or three, the others will be towed by LASTMA which you will eventually pay four hundred thousand naira (N400,000) to collect your vehicle back.”

He disclosed that on loading containers at the port for delivery, the shipping lines will stamp and instruct that truck drivers return the empty container to the port and on trying to return the empty container to the port, the management of NPA would not allow them to do so even with call up.

“Here (at the port), the management of NPA will call LASTMA to come and tow our vehicles. They have towed almost one hundred and fifty (150) trucks and before you get each of them, you pay up to four hundred thousand naira (N400,000). Where are they pushing us to?”, he queried.

Asked to confirm whether or not truck drivers were made to pay money to reproduce another call up paper if the previous one issued was unutilized after 48 hours, he said, “That is true but it is not every truck park. Look at this park at the second gate, if you obtain your call up there, after 48 hours, you will be made to pay another sixteen thousand naira (N16,000) which is the call up amount in that their garage. But it is not like in some other parks.

“The one I obtained from Sapid 2, I used it, they turned me back here three times, after those three days, I have to follow Ijora and the call up paper was still valid till I entered here.”

On whether the truck driver pay up to sixteen thousand naira (16,000) to obtain call up paper, Olalere who is the former Chairman of the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN), Tincan Island Port chapel said, “It varies; it is not the same amount. Some collect twenty thousand naira (N20,000), some collect twenty five thousand naira (N25,000), while some collect thirty thousand naira (N30,000) per call up paper depending on the person that processed it for you.

Reminded that NPA announced the sum of ten thousand naira (N10,000) as the official amount for the call up paper to be generated, he stated, “That is the official amount going to NPA coffers but it is not everybody that can go there to obtain the call up paper. You have to send somebody, those you are sending need something now. So, this is why I said the price varies, it is not the same price.

“As I am here now, if I want to go and do my call up, there are so many offices that I can enter and do it. There are so many garages I can enter and do it, the official amount payable to NPA is ten thousand naira (N10,000) or ten thousand, five hundred thousand naira (N10,500) per call up. Even that ten thousand naira official amount payable to NPA is too much. It is something that will last for many years and if 800 trucks come out of the port everyday times ten thousand naira (N10,000) official amount times thirty (30) days times a year.

“Although it is not all that bad for government to generate fund but that amount is too exorbitant. My expectation was that it shouldn’t pass two thousand, five hundred naira (N2,500) per call up and they will still make it. NPA is a government parastatals, if they are making money, there is nothing wrong with that but the money is too much.”

Photo: Former RTEAN Chairman, Tincan Island Port Chapel and member, Tincan Island Port Transport Operators (TIPTO), Alhaji Isiaka Olalere.

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