By DAPO OLAWUNI
The Amalgamation of Container Truck Owners Association of Nigeria (ACTOAN) has commended the Nigerian Shippers Council’s Port Standing Task Team (PSTT) for the suppression of extortion and other vices along the port access roads in Lagos, even as the group pledged to work with the PSTT in consolidating on these achievements.
ACTOAN led by its Chairman, Mr Ridwan Bello stated this on Monday during a working visit to the PSTT office at Nigerian Shippers Council, Apapa Lagos.
Speaking during the meeting, Mr Ridwan Bello noted that two years ago, the roads to the ports were characterised by hoodlums disturbing legitimate business owners. According to him, non state actors and area boys disturb the logistics and haulage business.
He however noted that all these are a thing of the past following the launch of the ‘Operation Free the Port Corridor’ by the PSTT.
“We all know that the PSTT has been in the frontline of eliminating sharp corrupt practices along the port corridor and there is nothing we can do than to work with the PSTT.
“Our Modus Operandi is to first sensitize our own members in the major problems we have along the port corridor which are; illegal parking, shunting and not following the single lane policy.
“We have also put in place strategies to sensitize and advertise on radio stations and television as to the problem of give and take, if you know your rights as a truck owner, you would instruct your driver not to give any bribe because you are doing the right thing.
“We have streamlined our means of ticketing our members because we have projects, not by standing on the roads or collecting money illegally.
We go to different truck parks and highlights some of the safety standards that must be put in place.
Mr Bello also took the opportunity to inform the PSTT that ACTOAN has set up a task force to complement efforts of it’s members.
“On 23rd of November, we set up a task force comprising of committee on revenue, enforcement and safety standards. This is why we have come to the PSTT to introduce our committee on enforcement.
“This is to properly look at issues we have on ground as regards extortion, shunting, illegal parking, so that we can have smooth operations in and outside of the port.
“We also appreciate the efforts so far taken by the PSTT because we can see that there has been a lot of improvements and proper arrangement of trucks and reduction in extortion on the roads.
“The maritime sector is one of the biggest revenue generation for the Nigerian economy, we cannot afford to have saboteurs before us and we do nothing.
“Before now, about two years ago, we know how the roads to the ports were, you would see hoodlums disturbing legitimate business owners owners, our export has been grounded because of this.
This is why we appreciate the efforts of the PSTT in reducing most of the hiccups we have in our industry.
“We hope to synergize and work with your team, because we also have a team that his capable and full of people of integrity, we would ensure that there is a cordial working relationship with achievement of the PSTT” he said
Responding, National Cordinator of Port Standing Task Team (PSTT) Comrade Moses Fadipe cautioned ACTOAN and it’s task force to fall in line according to direction of the PSTT, adding that the team would not allow any action that could lead to delay in the movement of trucks in and out of the port.
According to Comrade Fadipe, the PSTT was a child of circumstance due to the corruption perception index which was giving Nigeria a bad image globally.
He said that in year 2020, the federal government launched the Nigerian Ports Process Manual (NPPM) which gave birth to the PSTT as a monitoring and enforcement body whichs headed by Nigerian Shippers’ Council, supported by Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Independence Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) and Department of State Services.
The team started operations on 1st of March 2021.
While reeling out the achievement of the PSTT so far, Comrade Fadipe said “Today, shipping line operators, vessel operators can attest to what PSTT has done, the issue of corruption onboard vessels have been brought to the lowest ebb.
Couple of months ago, Nigeria was adjudged one of the nation’s who have dealth with corruption onboard vessels and this was why an award was given to Nigeria in far away Switzerland at Basel Convention, these are all the efforts of the PSTT.
“Vessels coming into Nigerian ports now spend four hours at the ports instead of ten days previously. Also, the number of containers examined per day by Terminal Operators have increased from 125 to 200 containers”
He said that on 24th April 2022, the ministry of transport launched Operation Free the Port Corridor which is now called “enlarged presidential task team” where all government agencies and unions were brought in. A lot of rules and regulations were put in place and PSTT was mandated to implement the agreements.
“This has ensured that there are no state or non state actors on the logistics ring and access to the Lagos port collecting money or stopping trucks illegally.
“This is why, if any of your member is caught violating these rules, you cannot come here and start pleading, that person must go through the laid down processes whereby we take him to a park, and ensure that he does the right thing.
We look for collaboration most times because we believe that in unity lies strength, and no one can do it all alone except we come together” Comrade Fadipe stated
The PSTT Cordinator also urged ACTOAN to start ensuring that truck owners purchase newer trucks, lamenting that Nigerian ports are characterized by old rickety trucks with about 75percent of them not having valid documents.
Comrade Fadipe said that the PSTT has been able to generate millions of Naira into the Federal Government TSA (Treasury Single Account) due to lack of compliance of the port truckers.