By DAPO OLAWUNI
Apparently in response to the gridlock that has gripped the Tin Can Island Port due to illegal activities of barge operators and terminal operators bringing in trucks through the waterways and releasing them on the port access road, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has now placed a ban on all Roro barge activities at the Tin Can Port of Lagos.
Recall that DAILY TREND NEWS had reported exclusively on Monday that Five Star Logistics Terminal and Josepdam Terminal were using their facilities to perpetrate this illegal activity.
After the Monday report, the NPA had swung into action and directed that all barge operations at Tin Can Port should be directed to Folawiyo and GMT facilities, both located on Creek Road in Apapa.
A senior official of NPA who spoke with journalists under anonymity, lamented that even though the NPA last week stopped the stripping (offloading) of containers along the port corridor, some of the clearing agents and truck drivers are adamant and are still engaging in the act.
He said the clearing agents are now going across the Tin Can Island road opposite the port, beside Oando Filling Station to strip containers.
He said that this stripping activity is equally affecting the ongoing construction of the Tin Can Island Road, even as he hinted that a Task Force set up by NPA would now swoop-in and arrest anyone caught in the Act.
Speaking, he said “After putting a stop to stripping last week, we noticed that the terminals were throwing trucks at us, including what we dont even need. Josepdam Terminal would go to Mile 2 and load trucks with barges and release them on the port access”
“The headquarters have now stopped Roro barge operations within the port, all such activities is now being handled by GMT and Folawiyo”
“Folawiyo can take an average of 200 trucks, same with GMT, so if you are coming to Tin Can, you are expected to come in through Folawiyo and go straight into the garage.
The NPA is now regulating the barge operators” he said.
According to him, the NPA would later consider genuine cases of those who can prove that their barge business would not escalate into the port.
“If you have any genuine case, you have to come forward and make a case, but the activities must end at the terminal”
“At Five Star Terminal, the situation was so bad that they bring in barge with trucks carrying containers, what they needed is the empty container, afterwards, they release the truck into the access road”
“When trucks exit from Tin Can through the Abuja Park, rather than going on top of the bridge, they make a u-turn and come back to front of Oando to strip”
“The construction company alleged that it could not work faster on the road because a lot of trucks were already waiting on the road and this is affecting movement of their own trucks”
“The problem with stripping is that, because of the money involved, almost every trucker wants to strip inside the port, we had about 120 trucks that wanted to go into the stripping yard, all the stripping yards are filled up and the whole of Tin Can was blocked”
“The NPA has directed the trucks to load and leave the port premises immediately so that imports going out of the port can come out”
The NPA top official described stripping as a service that is required, but that clearing agents should take it outside the port environment.
He urged them to make use of other strip yards at Warehouse Road, another at Liverpool us stop opposite Lagoon hospital, and another at Marine Beach area at Ijora.
Meanwhile, findings by DAILY TREND NEWS has shown that the clearing agents and freight forwarders have not been telling the truth in their various allegations against NPA and other security agencies, especially on extortion allegations.
Many of the drivers who were stranded at the port, blocking the entrance of the port gate, yesterday told our correspondent that the clearing agent who hired them is nowhere to be found, and that they have not been paid.
Even after being cleared by the Nigeria Customs, three of the drivers insisted that they would not leave the port unless the agent pays them.
While reacting to various allegations of extortion levelled against NPA officials, the source said these are mere allegations that is unfounded.
“When you see some of the drivers, they have been in the park for more than a week, is he the one that would have money to give you? And if there is any channel of paying this money into an account, let them come forward with evidence of the account numbers, these are mere allegations”
“If anybody has collected money from them, you cannot control the drivers, they would look into your eyes and tell you that they have paid you, but our officials are maintaining sanity at the port and nobody is complaining”
“Some of the drivers are adamant, they are insisting that the agents must come and renegotiate with them before they can move the containers out of the port” he said