…As Truckers Protest At Tin Can Port
By DAPO OLAWUNI
Even as the Nigerian Ports Authority
(NPA) has since commenced implementation of the electronic call-up system for trucks at Lagos ports, freight forwarders have said it is actually the duty of Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) to regulate and ensure standardisation of trucking business at the port.
Soeaking on behalf of a coalition of freight forwarders groups, former President of National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) Dr Eugene Nweke urged the CRFFN to wake up from slumber and take over its mandate from the Nigerian Ports Authority.
Dr Nweke faulted the alleged extortionist tendencies of the NPA Eto application and truck parks demanding truck owners to open an e-wallet with a deposit of N45,000 and N43,000, adding that N10,000 is collected from trucks before every passage to the port.
This according to him is adding to the cost of doing business in the ports.
Speaking, the ex-NAGAFF President said “We believe the CRFFN sooner or later would take over its responsibilities because truck regulation and standard does not fall under the purview of NPA, it is not also the duty of Nigerian Shippers Council, it is duty of CRFFN because trucking is an extended part of freight forwarding”
“Whatever trucks coming to the port to pick cargoes must be registered with CRFFN for proper regulation.
Until this is done, we would never have a properly regulated trucking system” he warned
Dr. Nweke noted that the CRFFN came into being via Act 16, 2007, but that before then, NPA have taken charge of regulating trucks that come into the port.
“But what NPA is doing is just to ensure that the truck coming into the port are the ones that have TDO, not that they are regulating in the real sense, the standard operating conditions or road worthiness of the trucks, the training of drivers and conductors or setting the rules, NPA is not doing all these”
“Their concern is that trucks without port pass cannot gain access into the port”
“But if you go to the CRFFN Act, because trucking is an integral part of freight forwarding, it falls under the purview of CRFFN who has the mandate to set standard, rules, train and retrain drivers and conductors, set standard for the trucks to ensure that they are road worthy before going into the ports”
“CRFFN should wake up from slumber and do their job, they should stop hiding and shifting backwards” Nweke said
Meanwhile, truck drivers at the Tin Can Island Port on Monday embarked on a protest against the NPA truck regulation system, alleging that the process was fraught with fraud, extortion by owners of the holding bays where they were assigned to drop empty containers.
Speaking with journalists on Tuesday in Lagos, the truckers gave NPA a one week ultimatum to address the challenges bedevilling the newly introduced electronic call up system, warning that failure to do this, they would withdraw their services from the port.
Cordinator of the truckers protest, Elder Sylvester Keshinro who is a chieftain of the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigerian (RTEAN), lamented that security operatives along the port corridors were extorting drivers at night and turning them back after three days due to bad roads.
He lamented that only 48 hours is given by NPA for expiration of the call up ticket, saying that efforts to enter the port could take more than four days and the trucker would be made to pay extra charge.
The Coordinator lamented that operators of designated holding bays however, charge the truckers as high as N180,000 after 48hours.
“What we are asking the government to do for us is that NPA should go out with transporters to check if truly the designated holding bays are functioning or not.
“Again, let the NPA investigate the amount payable for empty containers at the holding bays ; at least with these two facts, they will know that the holding bays and the call-up system in place is not functioning”
“We also want NPA to join us and visit Sunrise bus stop and see things themselves and look at how to amend their ways”