By DAPO OLAWUNI
Even though the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) had announced that the electronic call up system for trucks would kick start by August 2019, the authority failed to commence the project as promised.
Since the project failed to deliver as planned, the NPA management has been full of excuses to cover up the delay.
First, it was the Managing Director of NPA, Ms Hadiza Bala Usman who identified lack of licensed trailer parks for trucks operating at the nation’s maritime industry as being responsible for the delay in the implementation.
Ms Usman, while speaking at the quarterly meeting of the Nigerian Ports Consultative Council (NPCC), in Lagos recently said NPA had issued an advert for licensing of trailer parks adding that upon licensing of trailer parks, only trucks that were parked in those trailer parks will be granted access into the ports locations.
Also speaking with DAILY TREND NEWS on Thursday, General Manager Corporate and Strategic Communication of NPA, Eng Adams Jatto said that NPA would not be responsible for operating the electronic call up system.
According to him, the delay in the call up system is because NPA is currently shopping for investors that would operate the call up system.
Speaking with our correspondent, Jatto said “The issue of the electronic call up system is a new concept that we want to introduce, and as such it is not going to be manned by NPA, what we are now going through the procurement process for us to bring in an investor who would handle the call up system”
“We are still on the procurement process and this is what is responsible for the delay. According to the procurement Act, it has to go through the process for an investor to emerge”
However, investigations conducted by our correspondent revealed that truck drivers are already agitated because the delay has continuously subjected them to extortion, favoritism by the NPA security at the port gate, as well as the presidential task team on the Apapa gridlock.
Some of the truckers were sighted at the entrance of Apapa port gate last week ready to engage in fisticuffs with NPA security officials, but for the timely intervention of the police who asked them to turn back their trucks and leave the access road.
One one them who identified himself as Mr Salami alleged that NPA security in collaboration with the presidential task team carryout their acts of extortion during the dead of the night when Lagos is asleep.
According to him many truck owners prefer to park their trucks inside the streets of Ajegunle (Ajeromi Ifelodun Local Government) and pay a token to the hooligans, rather than make use of the NPA truck park.
“The manual call up system has failed because it is riddled with favouritism, bribe taking and discrimination. As a trucker, if you are not ready to part with money, they will not pass your truck to come inside the port, you would be left inside the Lillypond marshalling yard to rot away”
“This is why you see that many of us do not want to make use of that truck park, we prefer to stay close to the port where it would be easy for us to navigate after we have gotten a customer or a job to do”
However, the truck drivers have now resolved to bring in private investigators and human right activists to help them solve their problems.
A port stakeholder, Mr. Femi Olabanji who spoke with our correspondent recently, lamented the failure of the manual call up system being operated by the NPA.
He alleged that some trucks stay for several days at the Lillypond terminal where NPA was using as truck holding bay without being able to access the port to carry goods.
According to him “ we are fed up, I have some goods to carry at the port but I cannot carry them, my trucks have been at the Lillypond transit park for four weeks now still waiting for call up, and the drivers of these trucks collect money from me every day, without doing any single job, in fact I heard that recently a driver abandoned his boss truck and said the man should go and carry the truck whenever he has the time because he was frustrated, there is no job for him to do anymore, he has been there for weeks without accessing the port”.
Banji further accused NPA of showing favouritism by giving some individuals who do not have a single truck the opportunity to extort N10, 000 from truck owners and drivers by disguising as garage owners
“Another frustrating thing is that individual truck drivers cannot access the so called Lillypond Park, they will have to be under a garage, so what some of these people do is that they go to NPA, as soon as they know somebody there and register their name as garage owners without having a single truck
“These people will now go round collecting N10, 000 from individual truck drivers before they can access the port, imagine somebody who do not have a single truck collecting N10, 000 from like 10 trucks daily you know how much such a person is making daily now imagine that monthly.” He said.