The Nigerian Shippers’ Council on Tuesday called on the Lagos State Government to establish mobile courts in Apapa in order to prosecute and jail traffic offenders.
Barr Hassan Bello stated this at a stakeholders’ meeting on how to eliminate traffic gridlock around the port, decongest the port and bring about efficiency in Nigerian port system.
Represented by Mr. Carjetan Agu, Director of Consumer Services at the Nigerian Shippers Council, Bello said the major cause of the traffic gridlock in Apapa not lack of efficient traffic management system, but the problems is lack of compliance by operators.
He called on the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to ensure the reopening of the Lillypond Terminal where it was using as holding bay and truck call up system.
Proffering solutions to the challenges, Bello said “The first is that the Lillypond terminal and the truck park at Tin Can Port must be put to use”
“Secondly is the issue of corruption, if it is possible, we would liaise with the Lagos State Government to give us a mobile court, let there be a mobile court, if you are found guilty, you should be tried and jailed”
“Again, we have nominated parks about forty eight in number, the essence of it is that there was a presidential order that all trucks and tankers must vacate the roads to their parks pending the time they would be called on to come to the port, let all the trucks go to these parks”
“For the call up system to work, we must equally look at the efficiency of the terminal operators, they must tell us the minimum number of trucks they can accept in a day.
A situation where they are refusing to accept trucks into their facilities is causing problems” he said
Ms Hadiza Bala-Usman, the Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), on her part lamented that the Lillypond truck park was being used by garages by truck owners. She said that henceforth truck drivers must show evidence that their vessels have berth at the port and that they are truly being called to pick cargo inside the port.
She decried the number of armed men on the bridges passing trucks and warned against illegal collection of money.
Bala-Usman represented by Mrs Olufunmilayo Olotu, the Port Manager, Lagos Port Complex (LPC), urged truck drivers to ensure they had a call-up card handy before heading out to the port.
“There is gridlock in Apapa because many illegalities happen on the roads. Security officials drive or escort trucks while some are collecting illegal toll.
The NPA boss chided one of the terminal operators; APMT, for refusing to allow barges berth at its terminal to pick and return empty containers.
“The introduction of the use of barges is a good thing. The APMT terminal should give a barge space.
“They should also allow shipping companies to use APMT cranes to compliment theirs,’’ she said.
Also, Mr Kayode Opeifa, Executive Vice Chairman, Presidential Task Team on Restoration of Law and Order in Apapa Port Area, said that Apapa gridlock was driven by corruption which must be tackled.
Opeifa said that stakeholders in Apapa should desist from unhealthy rivalry and collaborate to tackle the gridlock.
“Government is not looking for new ideas. It has consulted with everyone and they know what is happening,” he said.
Opeifa said that the system and everyone involved in port business should do the needful to stop the gridlock.
He added that the issue of Lilypond should be solved because it was a critical part to reduce congestion.
“If terminals don’t work, congestion will prevail.
“Someone is bringing illegal trucks into Lilypond park. There is the need for transparent call-up system.
“To station trucks on the bridge is not the standard. They should be removed to avoid extortions.
“Terminal operators should have towing trucks to help remove broken down trucks,” he said.