By DAPO OLAWUNI
Even as the implementation of electronic call-up system for trucks at Nigerian ports kickstarted on Saturday, there was pandemonium at the Coconut axis of the Tin Can Island Port on Tuesday as police officers attached to the Lagos State Task Team clashed with truck drivers and some hoodlums around the Tin Can Island port.
Recall that the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) had officially launched the electronic call-up system for trucks seeking entrance into Nigerian ports to load cargo.
Eye witnesses confirmed to DAILY TREND NEWS that all hell was let lose when the security team made up of police, Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) and NPA security officials started turning back trucks and towing away articulated trucks around Coconut Bus stop.
The truck drivers resisted, and insisted that they were not going to vacate the road and that they would proceed to the port to lift cargo not minding the electronic call-up system.
Police officers reportedly fired gunshots and teargas to disperse truck drivers after some hoodlums around Ajegunle joined to support the truckers. The situation degenerated so much that port users could access the port for several hours.
Earlier during the commencement of the electronic call-up system on Saturday, our correspondent gathered that there was tension at the Apapa port as truck drivers refused to vacate the roads.
The truckers claimed to have paid monies to security agents to access the port and insisted that they were not turning back.
Speaking with our correspondent yesterday, Chairman of Dry Cargo Section of Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) confirmed that the security agents were carrying out an exercise to clear all articulated trucks from the port corridors.
Former Chairman of Tin Can Island Chapter of Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) Elder Sylvester Keshinro however confirmed that gunshots were fired around the port.
He lamented that the NPA failed to carry out proper sensitization exercise for the truck drivers before commencement of the electronic call-up system.
According to him, many of the truck drivers are still lined up from Sunrise Bus Stop, up to Coconut bus stop because they don’t understand yet what was happening.
“We do not understand the call up system so much, we don’t know maybe with the call up, we would be able to return empty containers at the port not.
We heard that empty containers should be taken to holding bays outside the port, but it all sounds confusing”
“The NPA has not done so much in terms of information and sensitization of the truckers for them to know what is going on”
“Myself, I am just hearing it now that empty containers should not be returned to the port but direct to holding bay of shipping companies, I was thinking that it is when you have gotten your call-up that you can move to the port with your empty container and load again”
“Since the call up kickstarted on Saturday, nothing is happening at Tin Can Port, because people have not been well informed, the information have not circulated yet, people should be aware of what they need to do”
“A lot of trucks are queued up at Tin Can Port with empty containers and they dont know what is happening, the police are just sending them away without any information to them, this is not done”
“I dont know why NPA are in hurry, they needed to have carried out seminars, sensitization and so on to let people be fully aware and prepared” he said
He advised that the ongoing construction of the Tin Can Port access roads should be completed before the rains commence. He said this is the only way that the electronic call-up system could be successful.
“We have talked about the ongoing road construction, the rain would start soon, the construction works of Mile 2-Tin Can road have not been concluded, trucks are queuing up from Sunrise Bus Stop up to Coconut bus stop” he lamented.