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ETO has failed to tame  Apapa gridlock—-Koko, NPA MD, laments

Eyewitness reporter
For the first time since the commencement of the electronic call-up system popularly referred to as ETO, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), the promoter of the system, has acknowledged the painful fact that the electronic option has failed to address the intractable Apapa traffic gridlock.
Agonising on the persistent chaos on the ports access roads despite the deployment of the electronic call-up system, the Acting Managing Director of NPA, Muhammed Bello Koko, declared that the biggest problem of his interim administration at the NPA is the traffic gridlock in and around Lagos Ports corridor that has defiled all the solutions.
It could be recalled that after several trials of the manual system to manage truck movement in and out of the ports had failed to ease the malignant traffic gridlock on the ports access roads, the NPA deployed the electronic call-up system of traffic management on February 27th, 2021 to streamline the truck movement.
But five months down the line, the much-vaunted automated system called ETO, has failed to tame the menace.
Speaking on Sunday on the intractable crisis on the road, Koko lamented that a number of problems, including sabotage from his staff, have frustrated all the attempts so far made to ease traffic gridlock on Lagos ports access roads.
 “For more than 10 years now, the Apapa traffic gridlock has defiled all solutions” he lamented.
He said the ETO system was 90 days old when he assumed duties as the Acting Managing Director of NPA, but the problem has not abated.
“There are also saboteurs even among our staff. We have had to issue queries to NPA staff involved and we are taking action.

“We have sent some home to allow for proper investigation. Others have been queried and some have been moved across ports.

“We have made it clear that we shall not tolerate saboteurs in the system no matter where they are coming from,” he said.

Koko delved into the series of actions taken by the management of NPA to end the gridlock.
“At NPA, we believe that priority needs to be given to our export cargo, but the major challenge for me is how to solve the gridlock in Apapa.

“One of the first executive actions I took when I was appointed was to visit the Tin can Apapa corridor to ensure that the right things are done and the right infrastructure is deployed. We are getting there gradually.

“We have put in measures to minimise the congestion in and around the port. NPA was using manual manifest and call-up system which was not very effective because of human interference.

“We have brought in ETO (electronic call-up system), to ensure smooth inward and outward movement of cargo from the port.

“The company, TTP was given Lilypond on when they should operate. The idea was to ensure that all trucks coming in are supposed to move from trailers parks to Lilypond then to the port.

“They were supposed to have deployed some physical and electronic infrastructure but that was not done.

“When I was appointed, I gave them an ultimatum to ensure that those items are installed as quickly as possible.
“I can assure you today that there has been more deployment of assets by TTP.

“I also requested that we need to sit down and reappraise what they have achieved.

“ETO was 90 days old when I resumed. We did an analysis to see where we are, what has been achieved and we identified where the gaps were. So, what I did was to push for immediate implementation of the agreement between us and TTP.

“The idea of enforcement, whatever you come up with, there must be enforcement, so we liaised with the Lagos State Government to ensure that we have the right security operatives on the ground.

“We have also collaborated with Lagos State Government through Lagos State Transport Management Agency (LASMA), which has brought a bit more sanity to the system.

“Because of our intense focus, there is already some improvement. There is a better flow of traffic. But let me finally say that the major hindrance to ETO is the road.

He however lamented that these efforts were being compromised by lack of good roads and human interference in terms of the activities of military personnel and touts.

“The Tin Can corridor is bad. We have had discussions with the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing to ensure that the construction company deploys its gadgets to start construction around that area.

“We have also complained about multiple checkpoints which we have tried to reduce because it is bringing a lot of extortions and creating a lot of traffic.

“The final issue is the stakeholders themselves; they need to buy into this. I keep saying that the worst of ETO is better than the best of the last system that we were using,” he said.

He said that NPA had met with stakeholders and agreed that any truck park that did not install CCTV, ensure proper convenience for vehicle owners and drivers and had no automated gate system should be delisted.

“The idea is for the truck parks to be dovetailed into the ETO system,” he declared.

“What we have observed is interference by government agencies and the stakeholders themselves.

Apapa gridlock

“Rather than pay the ETO ticket, they find a way to bring in military men. You find out that at night, military men escort vehicles which is sabotage.

“The stakeholders themselves need to buy into the ETO system. We have had town hall meetings with stakeholders to let them understand that this is a system that we are not going to change.

“The world has gone automated, so we need to reduce human interference.”
The managing director also complained about the activities of touts generally referred to as “area boys”.

“They (area boys) are involved in extortion and find ways to divert these trucks. We discovered a building not far away from Apapa gate where one can get a number plate printed in less than 20 minutes.

“This number can be used to get an ETO ticket. We have told the security agencies; they have raided the building and investigations are ongoing. So, we are moving from the normal ETO that has digits to QR codes which are difficult to duplicate.

He emphasized that for the ETO system to work properly, there have to be multiple trailer parks.

“We advertised and people showed interest in providing the parks that NPA will use for the ETO. We gave them what was needed for them to qualify: uninterrupted power supply because of the CCTV and the automated systems, Internet access network, and automated gate systems.

“Some of them have started while some of them have not. Those that have not deployed, we have given them a few more days but I think that in not more than 10 days, any park that does not meet those requirements, we will delist it and give others a chance.

“If the parks are not effective and don’t meet what we want, then the efficiency of ETO will also be affected. We have given them a couple of days after which we will delist any one of them that doesn’t meet the requirements.

“As at our last meeting, the decision is to give them a maximum of two weeks,” he declared.

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I want to bequeath fully automated ports to Nigerian shipping industry–Bello Koko 

Bello-Koko, NPA MD

Eyewitness reporter

Mohammed Bello-Koko, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), has expressed his passion and uncommon commitment to leaving a fully automated port system as his legacy after he bows out of office.

Bello- Koko, whose ascension to the NPA’s highest office was as dramatic as it was eventful, said port automation, which is the latest trend in the world, especially, the Port system, is central to his administration in the NPA.

Koko, who spoke Saturday 14th, May 2022 during his maiden press conference, expressed his belief that a fully automated port system will translate to efficiency, low costs, and improved revenue.

In a no hold- barred interactive session with journalists, the NPA helmsman shared his vision of robust port processes hinged on automation devoid of human interaction.

“When I came in, even though in an acting capacity, I held retreat first with the management staff and then the board during which I had to explain my vision of automated port system to them.
“I did this because I needed to get them to work with me and secured their buy-in.
“And it worked.
“Port system is dynamic so there must be a change in policies and focus.
Talking about the legacy he wished to bequeath to the industry, the banker- turned port administrator, explained that his desire is to fully automate the port system which he believed is the backbone of efficiency.
“I would want to see our ports fully automated. Automation is the backbone of efficiency in our ports.
”  It will achieve improved revenue. It will achieve a lot of things we want to achieve. I am really really interested in getting this done.

“We have so much automation done in isolation and we need to integrate them.

“We need to put up something that everybody will love to log into. We need to copy a system that is being used in other developed countries, something that will add value, something that everyone agrees with and that is the port community system and harbour automation.
“I am looking forward to a legacy of rehabilitated port infrastructures with the right marine equipment and that is something we have started working on already.


“Discussions have started in terms of designs, we have gotten the full design of the Tin Can port, how it is going to be reconstructed, what is the likely cost of reconstructing Tin CAN, what are we going to do with some parts of Apapa port.

“We have approached BUA to start reconstruction. The same process is on in the Rivers ports where some of the infrastructures have collapsed.

“If we are able to do this, then we have achieved quite a lot.

Apart from port automation, Koko beloved that he needs efficient and committed staff who are well motivated to drive the reformation agenda.

So he declared that improved staff welfare is another area he wants to work on while in office.

“Staff welfare is very important to me which I want to pay special attention to. All these things are the legacies I want to leave behind when I exit as the Managing Director of NPA” he declared.

The NPA MD, who gave a blow-by-blow account of the challenges and prospects of bequeathing a reformed port process, believed that the core function of the NPA was trade facilitation.

However, he lamented that since the agency has been turned into a revenue-generating agency, it has lost focus on this vital core function of trade facilitation while pursuing revenue generation

“NPA is about trade facilitation.

“The core responsibility of every port in the world is to facilitate trade.

“Until that is very clear, then there was a problem, and then to facilitate trade, that is when other things came in.

“While the NPA has been turned into a major revenue earner for the federal government of Nigeria, gradually, some of our responsibilities are impossible to carry out because there is more focus on the contribution to the CRF, which is fine.

“What it does for us is it makes us reduce costs and generate more.

He then extensively dwelt on the efforts of his management to reinvent the wheel of making NPA more of a trade facilitator than a revenue earner.

“For you to ensure that this trade facilitation succeeds,  you need to meet with your stakeholders.

“One of the things we did was to start to reach out to the stakeholders that were difficult to relate with.

“The port environment is a conglomerate of so many players.

” You need the Customs, SON, plant quarantine, the shipping companies which we do not regulate but are regulated by the shippers’ council and the terminal operators for you to succeed.

“That was the first thing we did and we set a goal for ourselves, which is what are those things we need to do in order to improve trade facilitation.

“It is only when you do that that you start to have a better flow of traffic, shorter dwell time of cargo, and quick turn around time of ships.

“And we reached out to as far as the Nigerian Navy with whom we are able to resolve some issues that we were not able to resolve for over 20 years.

“We just humbled ourselves and decided that we would reach out to everybody.

“We also realised that the modern ports are all moving toward automation, and automation cannot be in batches but there has to be full automation.

“Once there is manual interference in some of the things you do, then you haven’t fully been automated and because of that, we wrote to the IMO to help us consult. We are about to deploy the port community system.

“The port community system is an avenue which ensures that all stakeholders, all the players in the port processes, log into the system of exchange of data and processes.

“The good thing is that it doesn’t disturb the automation processes of individual agencies or stakeholders, such as e-customs and that was why we got the stakeholders to buy into it.

“We are upgrading our RIMS, you all know the problems of downloading manifest and we are going to deploy harbour automation.

“The IMO has mandated all ports to deploy such IT and soft wares by 2025, our target is 2023, maximum early 2024.

“We reached out to NLG. We have been trying to deploy VTS  for about 10 years now but since we came, it was one of the major challenges.

“You can’t get qualified people to deploy VTS, they are very few.

“We wrote to IMO, they gave us some companies which could not meet our requirements while some of them were not interested in working with NPA.

“However, NLG has a VTR in Bonny, even though it is not robust.

“We do not have a problem in collaborating and in the last few months, we have been meeting with the NLG so that they do the survey and put the moles and the sensors around the country.

“It is one of the most important things in the maritime industry now, worldwide.

“We should be able to have visibility without seeing the ship and it would be a tremendous achievement and I believe we can achieve it within the year.

“Our RIM is also being updated and we ensure that people keep using those applications that we have which have reduced manual processes.

“As a result, things are improving, speed is improving. We have been able to block revenue leakages.

“However, we have old ports, we can all attest to that.  The problem with the Eastern ports is decaying infrastructures while Tin Can island port is practically collapsing.

“We have decided to focus our budget on the rehabilitation of those decaying infrastructures.

“We took a holistic look at these decaying infrastructures and came to the conclusion that we need to rehabilitate Tin can, Apapa, and other ports.

Having reeled out his vision for a new port system, he then dared whoever cared to listen that he should be held responsible and accountable over his vision for the Nigerian ports.

“You can hold me responsible for any of these things ” he declared in a measured tone that betrayed his confidence and determination to succeed.

He promised to collaborate with relevant stakeholders and lending agencies to achieve his set objectives

“I will work with the relevant agencies, investors, and lending agencies who are interested in lending, either directly or indirectly.

” Some of them just need a guarantee from the NPA  to hold us responsible for any default,” he stated.
Bello-Koko was named Acting Managing Director of NPA in May 2021 following the suspension of the erstwhile Managing Director, Ms. Hadiza Bala Usman while he was made a substantive MD in February 2022.
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EFCC  discovers  academy where Yahoo boys are trained

Suspected Yahoo academy students
—arrests proprietor, 16 trainees in Abuja
Owolola Adebola 

Operatives of the Abuja Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC), have arrested one Afolabi Samad, owner of a Yahoo Yahoo Academy in Abuja.

The 24-year-old was arrested Thursday, May 12, 2022, in a sting operation alongside 16 of his students.

 The youngsters between the ages of 18 and 27 years were arrested at their hideout located in Peace Court Estate, Lokogoma, a suburb of Abuja.

The owner of the alleged Academy rented the 3 bedroom flat for Three Million Naira to impact the tricks of cyber-frauds on his apprentices for undisclosed fees.

Item recovered from the suspects include laptops, phones, charms and two vehicles: a Lexus RX350 and Toyota Highlander.

The suspects will be charged to court as soon as investigations are concluded.

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PSTT seeks partnership with NARTO, MWUN to end traffic gridlock

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