…Presidential Task Team Fingers NPA, Shippers Council, Alleges N500,000 Bribe
By DAPO OLAWUNI
The Executive Vice Chairman of the Presidential Task Team on Law and Order in Apapa, Comrade Kayode Opeifa has opened a can of warms over the various illegal operations going on inside Nigerian ports system which in-turn is fuelling traffic along port corridor.
In an exclusive chat with DAILY TREND NEWS last week, Comrade Opeifa alleged that two terminals at Tin Can Island Port; Josepdam Terminal and Five Star Logistics Terminal were receiving barges with containers and trucks meant for TICT Terminal, after which these trucks are released on the common user road.
He lamented these trucks don’t want to go through the traffic or the usual truck transit parks, so they pay between N300,000 and N500,000 bribe to come in by barges through the two terminals.
He said these trucks were clogging the common user road at the port currently, and that after coming out of Josepdam and Five Star Terminal, they try to gain access into TICT Terminal and Ports and Cargo Terminal.
Comrade Opeifa who is a former Commissioner for Transportation in Lagos State told our correspondent that the Nigerian Shippers Council, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) port manager and traffic managers are major beneficiaries of the racket.
He said he has reported the situation to the Nigerian Shippers Council, but they have failed to act on it, even as the illegality continued.
He also said that the same syndicate is running at the Apapa port where ENL Terminal that is not meant to receive containers, is now receiving containers for onward transfer to APM Terminals.
He said that for traffic to dissappear permanently from the port system, the NPA needs to correct its faulty operational system at the port.
Recall that two freight forwarding associations; Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) and National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) had last week pressured that Presidential Task Team to compel the contractor in charge of the Tin Can Port access road to open up alternative exit routes for cargoes to leave the port, especially the Abuja end of PTML Terminal.
Giving reasons why the Abuja area cannot be opened for now, he said “All trucks going into the port supposed to make use of the truck transit park, but are they passing through the traffic? How does those trucks get to the port? They didn’t pass through the right channel into the port. This problem we have at Tin Can Port today was not there four months ago, it was created”
“On Saturday, we had over forty barges on the waterways and they are all illegal barges, they used them to load trucks and containers, some of them were meant for TICT, but they were rejected by the terminal operator, so they started dropping the trucks at Josepdam and Five Star Terminal”
“When the trucks came out, they clogged the access road.
So, if we want to solve the problem at the port, this is what we must prevent, not for us to go and find a way for them to operate by opening an alternative exit point”
“Secondly, stripping containers inside the port is illegal, trucks coming out of the port with containers are not supposed to be discharging along the port corridor.
What these guys do now is that, after discharging along the port access road, they now return the empty containers immediately so that the truck can go back into the port and pick another container. So, perpetually the trucks stay inside the port, meanwhile, the procedure is for them to load cargo and leave the port”
“The third one is the illegal points and waterfront buildings at Creek Road where containers are being received, they are all illegal, these ones are clogging the Liverpool bridge, so the truck that wants to come out of the port cannot come out”
Opeifa said that the situation going on at Tin Can Island Port is operationally wrong, and that it has nothing to do with the traffic gridlock.
According to him, the illegal movements are the reasons why trucks are finding it difficult to leave the port.
“These people calling for the opening of Abuja Park as an alternative exit, are part of the problem, they collect between N300,000 to N500,000 in order to pass containers through Josepdam”
“It was created for some people to make money, these people making money are the ones taking the decisions, so, they cannot change their decisions because they are making money from the wrath”
“These people that are supposed to regulate the port are the ones encouraging the illegality”
“These challenges were not there four months ago, the problem came when the port manager and the traffic manager were changed by NPA”
“Shippers Council and NPA are supposed to control Josepdam Terminal, but they are all benefitting from the wrath, I have reported the issue to Shippers Council, yet nothing was done” he said
At the Apapa port, he said the traffic is encouraged by ENL for receiving containers for APMT, according to him, this alleged illegal arrangement would definitely affect the core job of ENL which is to receive flatbed trucks for bulk cargoes.
“The people behind the ENL arrangement are retired port managers and General Managers in Apapa, so it cannot be stopped”
“When you see traffic anywhere in Apapa, it is coming from inside the port, NPA should correct its operations” he said
Opeifa also alleged that the NPA had shutdown the various truck parks registered under her, and directed the trucks to return to the port access road.
He said NPA is doing this because the agency is not happy that the Presidential Task Team solved the traffic problems in Apapa within two months.
“How would they spend their budget for traffic management if there is no congestion? They wanted to prove that they too are working, so they deliberately create crisis on the road”