Eto: Stakeholder groups bemoan attempt by NPA to extort truck drivers at seaports

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…Says development not acceptable

A coalition of freight forwarders, shippers and traders’ associations with interest in cargo has faulted the attempt by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to use the electronic call up system as well as the truck transit park (TTP) as another means of revenue generation for the federal government.

Dr. Eugene Nweke, former National President of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) who spoke on behalf of the groups in a press conference in Lagos recently noted that the e-call up system should be aimed at providing better working environment for all stakeholders by providing access to the ports rather than profit making.

Nweke noted that although nobody is against revenue generation for the federal government, but if revenue generation should be by every means, it becomes extortion which according to him is not acceptable.

“Put together 800 TEUs leaving the port paying N10,000, how much is that from Apapa in a year? And this is something that will last for a long time, it is not a two year contract, it is not a one year contract. So, why now take N10,000? This is something that N1,000 per park or N2,000 per park. I have asked you, gentlemen of the press to go back and get us the profile of this consultant behind this idea.

“Let us make a bold statement here, the concerned regulatory body should please do the needful and the needful thing to do is that every truck owner should have his own garage somewhere. We can only have a system whereby if you are a truck owner and you are known to NPA, you have cargo but the system will have to call you up from the garage and give you time when you have to come and pick up the cargo not this idea of trying to exploit people by giving it all manner of names.

“Truck owners association should encourage their members, government should support them or mandate the Nigerian Shippers’ Council to go somewhere and open a park for them. Truck regulation and standardization does not fall under the purview of NPA so also the Nigerian Shippers’ Council. Truck standard, trading and practice falls under the CRFFN because trucking is an integral part of freight forwarding. So, whatever truck that visits the port to pick any cargo must have been seen to register with CRFFN for proper regulation. Till such a thing is done, we will never have and we are yet to have a firm trucking system that will meet the reality of time”, he said.

While insisting that the Apapa traffic was as a result of administrative failure on the part of the government agencies concerned, he however maintained that “when an administration fails, monopoly takes over.”

“I ask people, when port access road fails, which authority is it to supervise them? Have we not been maintaining these port access roads since year 2000? Has it ever been this worse? Somebody in authority has failed to look at cargo forecast. As cargo increases and more traffic are coming into your port, it is expected that the vehicular movement on your road will also be affected.

“So, planning entails taking good necessary precaution in order to cushion the influx but somebody just allowed the situation to get so bad and at the end of the day, what we have today is every other security agency is now port gridlock management expert. We now see a counter coup between the Vice President’s Office, Presidential Task Team and now Ministerial, the same Vice President that came with the ease of doing business, where is the ease of doing business both in the ministerial and the presidential?

“When somebody should have resigned or be called to order, that you failed in your managerial duty, nobody is looking at it. Apapa gridlock did not just start over night, failure is the issue not only to manage and do the needful. This is not the only port that is prone to water environment, so many ports are here but how come today, there is now a tag, Apapa gridlock?” he queried.

Photo: Former National President of NAGAFF, Dr. Eugene Nweke.

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