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80,000 trucks registered on ETO platform

Bello-Koko, NPA, MD
—-as Bello-Koko gives E- call up system pass mark
Eyewitness reporter
Mohammed Bello-Koko, the Acting Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has given the much-vilified electronic call-up system a thumb up, claiming it has resolved about 80 percent of the intractable traffic Apapa gridlock.
Bello-Koko, who made this disclosure as a guest on a breakfast programme, monitored recently in Lagos, explained that while the Authority is not unmindful of the pains of Apapa residents, what remains is to address the gridlock caused by the failed portion along the Mile 2 – Tin-Can Port road.
He believed that as soon as the entire stretch of the Tin-Can Port highway is completed, the perennial gridlock within Apapa would be completely eliminated.
“After this, we will fully deploy the ‘Eto’ call-up infrastructure for trucks along the Tin-Can Port corridor,” he said.
Debunking insinuations that the ‘Eto’ system has been compromised, the NPA helmsman explained: “the ‘Eto’ truck booking system was launched in February, and when I assumed office, my first act was to carry out a comprehensive review of the system and we directed the system manager to immediately address all areas of deficiencies.
” These infrastructure upgrades coupled with the support of the Lagos State Government and other stakeholders, the vehicular gridlock along the Ijora – Apapa axis had reduced by over 80 percent and am sure residents of Apapa can attest to this”, he added.
He further said that the Authority has fully embraced multimodal transportation by encouraging better use of barges and port-rail, for the movement of laden and empty containers in and out of the ports.
The NPA boss said this development has brought a significant reduction in the cost of doing business at the ports.
According to him, as part of efforts to kick-off the electronic call-up system, a fully automated transit truck park was established while 29 satellite parks were approved to ensure that trucks coming to do business in the port are properly profiled and verified before accessing the port.
“Out of the 29 parks, about eight have met the required standards, which include installation of bollards, CCTVs, automated gate systems, and relevant IT equipment”
He noted that apart from few isolated cases, where some truck drivers try to subvert the system by not adhering strictly to the truck manifest arrangement with its attendant disruption, the e-call up has been able to streamline cargo evacuation and truck movements, thereby bringing a level of sanity to the roads.
He equally attributed the elimination of the Apapa gridlock to the new policy introduced by the Authority, which compelled shipping lines to ship out no less than 80 percent of the number of containers shipped in, for every voyage be it empty containers or export cargo.
 “Over time, we discovered that most shipping lines were storing their empty containers in Nigeria, which was cheaper for them, but we have introduced a policy whereby shipping companies should  take back 80 percent of the laden containers they brought into the country from the stock of empties and export cargo, this has also reduced the number of trucks with empty containers waiting on the roads”
“What this meant in a lay man’s language is that if a vessel brings 100 containers, for instance, such vessel must take back 80 containers, which must be among the empties and export containers, without which she would not be allowed to sail out of the ports”.
The NPA boss declared that a total of 80,000 trucks have so far registered on the ‘Eto’ platform, however, only 16,000 trucks have met the minimum safety standards, which is an indication, that more work is needed to enthrone safety and prevent accidents within the port area.
“There will be continuous improvement of ETO system, including the deployment of additional physical and IT infrastructure as well as grant approval for more transit parks to cushion the excruciating pains of truckers” he noted.
“The Authority had also embarked on what he called ‘operation green’ through which all illegal structures and shanties on port access roads in Apapa were cleared, the move formed part of efforts to free flow of traffic in the area.”
Shedding more light on the provision of the barge services to ease movement of cargo out of the seaports, the NPA Managing Director said barge operators are now being guided by the revised standard operating procedures (SOP) in order to ensure efficient and safe barge operations.
 He stressed that owners of barges must comply with the new safety guidelines if they wish to do business at the port.
 “When we approved the use of the barges, we soon discovered that many of them (operators) did not have radio communication equipment onboard and we directed them to install the equipment.
“We also insist that these barges must be seaworthy before they are allowed to sail so as to forestall a situation where they break down at the middle of the channel, which would cause massive disruptions to shipping.
“We are also developing an electronic call-up system for the barges, just like what we have for the trucks on the roads so as to ensure that we streamline their operations.
” There is a department in the NPA charged with the responsibility. In the last few weeks, we have also received proposals for the deployment of very large self-propelled barges, we are being careful, but we are studying all that, the PPP Unit of NPA is working on that”, he revealed.
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I was never in charge of maritime industry —Saraki

Senator Gbemisola Saraki, Minister of State for Transportation in a hearty discussion with Amaechi when the going was good

 

Eyewitness reporter

For three years after she was named the Minister of State for Transportation in 2019, Senator Gbemisola Saraki said she was never in charge of the maritime sector.
Her assertion contradicted the gentleman’s agreement between her and Rotimi Amaechi, who until his resignation from Mohammed Buhari’s cabinet to pursue his failed presidential ambition, was the Minister of transportation.
Amaechi,  as the then supervising Minister, in 2019, had delineated the duties of the two heads of the ministry to avoid any possible clash of interests.
At one of the public functions held in Lagos in 2019 at the beginning of his second term in office as the Minister of Transportation, Amaechi publicly declared that while he would focus his attention on railways due to the enormity of the project and its importance to the national economy, Saraki will be in charge of the maritime industry with his occasional supervision, especially as it concerns maritime security.
Ameachi had then acknowledged that he had abandoned the maritime industry for the rail sector when he first served as transportation minister from 2015 to 2019 but said his minister of state, Senator Gbemisola Saraki,  will fill the gap during his second term in office.
“In my first term as minister, I completely abandoned the maritime sector to the heads of agencies.
“This time around, that won’t be happening again as I have instructed that the Hon. Minister of Transportation for State should personally supervise the maritime agencies, while I just oversee what is happening” Ameachi had declared.
However, Senator Saraki subtly debunked the claim three years after when she said that she was never in charge of the sector.
The minister was reacting to an inquiry from the curious journalists last week Friday why it took her one year to the end of her four-year tenure to come on a familiarisation tour of the sector she was supposed to be superintending.
“I was never in charge of the maritime sector. I was asked to supervise road transport”  the Kwara State-born politician declared.
Her revelation confirmed the widely held belief among the stakeholders that there was a repressed and smouldering animosity between the two Ministers.
Though Saraki tried to downplay the cat and mouse relationship with her former boss, stakeholders however believed that the two Ministers never got along well with each other.
Sources pointed to instances when the two Ministers were tactically avoiding joint attendance at maritime events.
Impeccable sources whispered to our reporter that the festering feud became noticeable when Saraki began to boycott events in the industry with her former boss.
It was further learnt that the boycott of events in the industry by the Minister of state may be a subtle protest against the apparent arrogation by Amaechi of official duties of the junior Minister which has led to the redundancy of Saraki.
It was gathered that throughout 2019 and the better part of 2021, Amaechi allowed Saraki to take charge of events in the maritime industry.
Sources claimed that towards the end of last year and since the beginning of 2022 up till his resignation as the Minister, Amaechi may have reneged on the gentleman’s agreement between him and his minister of state.
“During this period, the Minister took over the functions hitherto reserved for the Minister of state.
”This development seems to have irked Saraki who felt the Minister was trying to make her reductant.
“That was when she started to boycott functions at the maritime industry where she and her principal were likely to meet” a source who was in the know confided in our reporter.The absence of the minister of State at major maritime events became noticeable during landmark events such as  NIMASA’s unveiling of wreck removal in 2021,  the World Maritime Day, 2021,  and the inspection of the Lekki deep seaport by President Muhammadu Buhari.

It could also be recalled that Amaechi had made a couple of visits to the Lekki deep seaport, even on a Sunday, before the presidential visit, none of which Saraki attended.

Concerned maritime stakeholders claimed that the recent action of Ameachi, who is widely regarded as the ”Lion of the Niger Delta” may appear bossy to Gbemisola Saraki, who is also a strong-willed woman.
“The two Ministers are of strong-willed personalities who don’t brood nonsense.
“We all know the political antecedents of Amaechi who has a domineering posture.

” Gbemi is also made of sterner stuff given her role in the “Otoge” political tsunami in Kwara which eventually swept off  Bukola Saraki, her blood brother, from the political dominance in Kwara politics, a role which earned her the present position in the present dispensation.
“So, I don’t see how Amaechi, who has domineering posture could lord it over Gbemi, who is equally a woman of strong character, without skirmishes” a knowledgeable analyst declared.
However, stakeholders were skeptical if Senator Saraki could achieve much of the promises she made during her week-long tours of Lagos ports last week given barely one year she has as a member of the Buhari Administration before it is wound up.
The Minister came on the tour in the company of some Directors in the ministry.

“Today is my fifth week of assuming the leadership of the Ministry of Transportation”, she declared last week Friday in Lagos.

“We came to take stock of the sector. We had taken the stock of the Road sector,” she said.

Giving her summation of her findings at the end of the tour, she declared” Apapa and Tin Can ports are in terrible need of repairs.

“We will go and come back for repairs.

“We have the short, medium, and long-term plans for this. We need to start with rehabilitation here. Another problem here is power”

The  Minister met various groups who are stakeholders in the industry.

Among them are women groups in maritime, terminal operators, stevedores, maritime workers union groups, haulage, and transport operators, maritime lawyers, freight forwarders, and maritime press.

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We have political will to ensure CVFF is disbursed—-Saraki

Senator Gbemosola Saraki, Minister of State for Transportation
—- expresses sadness over unending delay
Eyewitness reporter

The Minister of State for Transportation, Senator Rukayyat Gbemisola Saraki has expressed willingness to muster the necessary political will to ensure the controversial Cabotage Vessels Financing Funds (CVFF) are disbursed before she leaves office.

She expressed sadness over the delay in the disbursement of the interventionist funds, 19 years after it was set up which she said was critical to the empowerment of the struggling indigenous ship owners.
The Minister made this commitment Friday during the interactive media parley she held in Lagos to round up her week-long tours of Lagos ports.
The Minister, who was fielding questions from journalists, declared that her ministry would work with the National Assembly to expedite action of the disbursement process.
She disclosed that she was part of the senators who passed the Cabotage Act in 2003 which gave birth to the CVFF and it was disheartening that 19 years later the funds are yet to be disbursed.
 “It is really very disheartening that the fund has not been disbursed but we will work with the National Assembly to ensure its disbursement.
“Just watch, it has to be disbursed, especially with the coming on stream of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

“In the course of this visit, I have also interacted with so many stakeholders, including the indigenous ship owners.

“I know the number of vessels that Nigerians had 10 years ago and I know how many they have now.
“The funds is very critical for the empowerment of indigenous ship owners and we know many of them have gone under”

“It is really a shame that this fund has not been disbursed, I learnt the value is $350 million now and I am not sure any part of it is missing.

” We will work with the National Assembly to pass the guidelines. It is not really about the Federal Ministry of Finance but I think it is more of the political will to disburse it and I think we have the political will to do so.”
The Minister disclosed that the guidelines for the disbursement of the fund have been formulated and awaiting the approval of the  National Assembly.

She added that the disbursement would follow the approval by the National Assembly after beneficiaries must have been shortlisted.

According to her, the approval would soon be secured and the fund disbursed in no distant time.
She regarded the non-disbursement of the CVFF as a national shame and embarrassment.
CVFF is a two percent contribution by indigenous ship owners on every Cabotage contract executed and is meant for fleet expansion and empowerment of the shipping capacity of indigenous ship owners.
Since 2003 when the Cabotage Act was enacted and 2006 when the CVFF guidelines were enacted, no disbursement was made as the funds have become a subject of controversy and subject to serial abuse.
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Headlines

P&ID fraud : Court convicts, winds up Marqott Nigeria Limited.

Owolola Adebola

Justice D.U Okorowo of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has convicted and wound up Marqott Nigeria Limited,  one of the 30 companies associated with the  Process and Industrial Development Limited, P & ID,  for money laundering.

The company was convicted on Thursday,  June 16, 2022, after being found guilty of four-count charges bordering on money laundering preferred against it by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

Count one of the charges read: “That you, Marqott Nigeria Limited, being a designated Non-financial Institution; and Giovanni Beccarelli, Valentina Fantoli, and Dimitri Duca, being directors of and signatories to the bank account of Marqott Nigeria Limited, sometime in September 2014, in Abuja, within the Abuja Judicial Division of the Federal High Court, failed to comply with the requirements of submitting to the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, a declaration of activities of Marqott Nigeria Limited contrary to Section 16(1) (f) read together with Section 5(1)(a)(ii) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011(as amended and you thereby committed an offence punishable under section 16(2)(b) of the same Act.”

Count two read:  “That you, Marqott Nigeria Limited, being a designated Non-financial Institution; and Giovanni Beccarelli, Valentina Fantoli, and Dimitri Duca, being directors of and signatories to the bank account of Marqott Nigeria Limited, sometime in September 2014, in Abuja, within the Abuja Judicial Division of the Federal High Court, failed to develop programs to combat money laundering and other illegal acts, to wit: failure to designate at management level a compliance officer within any strata of Marqott Nigeria Limited, contrary to Section 16(1)(f) read together with Section 9(1)(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended) and you thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 16 (2)(b) of the same Act”.

At the point of the first arraignment on February 7, 2022,  the defendant pleaded “not guilty” to the charges, setting the stage for a full trial.

In the course of the trial, the EFCC presented many witnesses and tendered many documents as exhibits.

In his judgment,  Justice Okorowo found Marqott Nigeria Limited guilty of all the four-count charges and convicted it accordingly.   He also ordered that the company be wound up  and its entire assets forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

Marqott was first arraigned on Monday,  February 7, 2022, for being an accomplice in the $9.6bn Gas Supply and Processing Agreement between the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and  P&ID.

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