The NPA boss alongside the Executive Director Marine and Operations, other management staff, including Port Managers of Lagos Ports Complex and Tin Can Island Port Complex, Managing Directors of Apapa Bulk Terminal and Dangote Port Operations among other stakeholders, held a meeting with Mr. Governor and his team at the Lagos House in Marina.
Speaking at the meeting, the NPA Acting MD harped on the need to strengthen enforcement of traffic laws along the Apapa and Tin Can Ports roads.
Bello-Koko stated that the NPA has been inundated with complaints of extortions from truckers, especially by security operatives, including the Military, the Police and NPA Security, demanding money from drivers before accessing the Ports.
He described the ugly practice as a major disincentive to the smooth implementation of the truck call-up system.
Bello-Koko lamented that it has been alleged that no less than thirty “toll-points” have sprung up around the Apapa and Tin Can Port, where bribes are being collected before trucks are allowed into the Port.
Speaking with journalists after a 3 -hour closed-door meeting with the Lagos State Governor, Bello-Koko said “one of the complaints of the truckers has to do with extortion by security operatives, the Army, the Police, the Nigerian Navy and even NPA Security staff.
“We at the NPA have 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, and we will do further reviews, whoever is found involved, would be appropriately sanctioned.
“Because of the involvement of several security units, many checkpoints have been created, we believe there are over thirty checkpoints within the Apapa and TinCan Port axis, and we believe that this is a major issue causing delays and a whole lot of problems, this was one of the concerns we raised at our meeting with His Excellency,” he said.
The NPA boss acknowledged that the Lagos State Government has been a close partner, especially when it comes to enforcement, both in terms of providing security operatives and monitoring of the “Eto” call-up system, however, said there is a need to further strengthen that collaboration.
He explained that last week after an assessment visit, he directed 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 the Authority has given the TTP company “marching orders” to immediately see to the deployment of these infrastructures, so as to reduce the waiting time of trucks in and out of the Port.
Bello-Koko further said that the meeting discussed the matter of poor access roads, especially around Sunrise Bus-stop leading to the Tin Can Port.
According to the NPA Boss “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 to send in their trucks or exporters to send in and bring their trucks out freely.
Bello said he was optimistic that the renewed collaboration with the Lagos State Government would bring an end to the perennial gridlock within and around the Apapa metropolis.
He restated that henceforth, trucks that have not been registered or do not have the “Eto” ticket would not have access to the Port.
“We have directed TTP to deploy necessary infrastructure such as bollards, spikes and automated barriers, while CCTVs be fully installed at the port gates (entry and exit points), especially at the TInCan Island Port where such equipment is practically non-existent at the moment.
He also spoke on efforts by the Authority to address the myriad of hiccups associated with the return of empty containers to the Port.
Bello-Koko further said that efforts are on to significantly improve the transfer and processing of exports at the Port.
During his interactive session with Port stakeholders, Governor Sanwo-Olu called on all port users to be alert to their responsibilities in putting an end to the gridlock in Apapa.
He said there was a need for Port service providers, security agencies and NPA to adhere to their Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) as well as invest in the needed infrastructure which would galvanise the “Eto” system to heightened performance.
He assured that the State Government would commence engagements with the petroleum tanker drivers, tank farm owners and the NUPENG Union, to ensure that they are factored into the “Eto” call-up system.
According to Sanwo-Olu, the poor state of the Sunrise Bus-stop corridor has been identified as the major cause of the traffic congestion into the Tin Can Island Port, and there is a need for the contractors to speed up work around that area.
On his part, the General Manager of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), Mr. Jide Oduyoye, said that Port users should expect a renewed vigour from LASTMA in dealing with the traffic situation around the Lagos Ports.
He said, “there are issues of tankers that are not part of the “Eto” system that needs to be part of the system because once the roads are cleared, we suddenly find out that the petrol tankers occupy the roads which makes it look as if nothing has happened.
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