By DAPO OLAWUNI
Even as Apapa traffic gridlock has peaked recently due to end of the year importation frenzy, and due to alleged bribe collection by security operatives on the port access roads, the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) has compelled terminal operators to open up their jetties for cargo evacuation by barges.
Chairman of Tin Can Island Port Chapter of ANLCA, Prince Segun Oduntan in an exclusive chat with DAILY TREND NEWS confirmed that terminal operators at Tin Can port have agreed to allow private barges pull up at their jetties to evacuate containers.
Our correspondent gathered that before now, terminal operators reluctantly allow barges to load containers from their terminal and whenever they allow, they charge exorbitantly.
Apparently disturbed by the congestion inside the terminal and the sufferings that agents were made to pass through before evacuating their goods, Prince Oduntan recently set up a committee comprising of all past chairmen and some executives of ANLCA at Tin Can chapter.
The essence of the committee chaired by Prince Segun Oduntan, is to interface with government agencies and terminal operators on how to ease the port congestion.
Other members of the committee are; Dr. Kayode Farinto, Vice President of ANLCA, Barr Ada Akpunonu, Alhaji Lala, Mr Lewis, Mr Shittu, Prince Ozo Chukwura among others.
The committee has convened series of stakeholders meetings with Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Nigeria Customs Service, Port Police among others.
The association have now prevailed on terminal operators to allow cargo evacuation by barges.
Prince Oduntan told our correspondent that it is more economical to transport cargoes through barges than transportation by road.
According to him, it takes N270,000 to transport containers from Tin Can Port to Ikorodu, Epe axis of Lagos.
He said “Terminal operators have accepted that agents should go through their shipping companies to evacuate containers by barges”
“TICT is the one receiving the largest cargo in Tin Can Port, so they should have that alternative route of decongesting their terminal, they must not compromise it at all”
“They refused to allow importers use the barges before now because they were looking at barge operations from business angle, TICT was using its own barge to convey cargoes to their extended terminals including SCOA.
Right now, this can no longer work because the vessels at anchorage are now increasing, they are getting delayed because there is no space to discharge inside the port”
“When the terminal is full to the brim, what do you expect?”
“If your cargo is supposed to go to Ibadan, Sagamu, Benin and Abuja, instead of paying N1.5million to get a truck to Abuja, you can use M270,000 to transport containers to Ikorodu, from there you can get a truck for N500,000 to Abuja”
“By so doing, you have saved more than N500,000 and cut out the delays and traffic gridlock”
“There are private terminals now littering Ikorodu, Itokin and Epe area of Lagos State where barges now transfer containers to after they are released from the port”
The ANLCA Chairman lamented that due to the Apapa gridlock, several companies and businesses have fold up, while staffs are forced to stay at home because their raw material imports are trapped at the port.
He said the committee is now the watchdog at the port now. He said due to the intervention of the committee, the Mile2- Tin Can end of Apapa Oshodi expressway is a bit free for trucks.
Speaking on other demands by the ANLCA Committee, he said “We equally asking terminal operators to give us 90 days after they must have issued us the Terminal Delivery Order (TDO) anytime the container comes, so be it, they must stop deducting from the container deposit.As a matter of fact, we are even clamouring that they stop collection of container deposits”
DAILY TREND NEWS correspondent gathered that bribe is being collected from the trucks on the Ijora bridge inwards Apapa Port, and this was why the traffic gridlock has been increased.
Also, the border closure has added to it, as well as the ongoing construction along Mile 2 -Tin Can road.