By DAPO OLAWUNI
There is looming port congestion at all the terminals operating at the Tin Can Island Port as a result of lack of access for loaded containers to exit the port freely.
Investigations by DAILY TREND NEWS revealed that the two routes in-and-out of the Tin Can Island Port; the Coconut axis, and the Liverpool axis, are presently under construction by a construction company; HITEC.
A visit to the area revealed that at the Coconut-Trinity axis, loaded containers cannot exit the port through that route because of craters.
The alternative route along Liverpool is also currently under construction.
This has subjected truck drivers to several months on queue, trying to access and exit the Tin Can Island Port, while at the same time, subjecting the drivers to extortions by security agents as well as unfriendly, dirty port environment.
Meanwhile, operators at the port have blamed the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) for complacency over the looming congestion, and for being too scared to confront the construction company to create alternative routes for trucks.
The stakeholders vituperated against the NPA on a “Ports Working Committee Platform”, saying that NPA management can not excuse themselves from the problem on the port’s access roads.
“They are a federal government agency, the contractor, HITEC, is working for the federal government.
It will not cost them anything to call the attention of the management of HITEC to the unprofessional conduct of their foremen in which they just block access and exit of the ports, economic implications not withstanding”
“How can the entire management of all the terminals in Tin Can as well as NPA management keep silent while HITEC suffocate the ports?”
“What will it cost the port manager, Tin Can Island Port to call the managing director of HITEC construction company and complain to him how his men have blocked the entire port without making way for entry into the port and exit from the ports? there is more than enough space to do that without interfering with the construction areas”
“Does the port manager Tin Can Island Port feel that he is too small, therefore the Managing Director of HITEC will not listen to him?”
“If the port manager feels too small to call the managing director of HITEC, let him call his own Managing Director Ms Hadiza Bala Usman and report to her how HITEC has blocked the port and it’s implementations on the nation’s economy” a participant stated
Our correspondent learnt that there is currently a high level of engagement among stakeholders over the road. A meeting held recently between managements of NPA, Tin Can Island Port, terminal operators, shipping companies, road transport unions, the presidential task force, the police, the army and the Navy.
Sources at the meeting disclosed that it was agreed that the Tin Can 1st gate should be closed to exit trucks while 2nd gate would be closed to entering trucks.
Meanwhile, Chairman of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) Tin Can Port, Prince Segun Oduntan lamented that the lack of access roads in-and-out of the port has fired up the cost of clearing goods.
In a recent chat with our correspondent, he lamented that containers that are hitherto cleared for 800,000 is now being cleared at N2million.
The ANLCA Chairman accused terminal operators of being laid back and complacent about the challenges faced on the road instead of them to stand with NPA.
He said “Right now, clearing costs have doubled, and this is having an effect on the manufacturing sector, a clearance we are supposed to do for N800,000, we end up implementing it for N2million”
“Barge operations is what people are embracing now, the level of trucks coming to the port have reduced, if the construction company double up their work, it would be finished on time”
He urged the construction company, HITEC, to endeavour to work both at nights in order to speed up the project.