…Sends Note of Warning to Others
…As FG Re-opens Marine Bridge
By DAPO OLAWUNI
The Port Standing Task Team (PSTT) a federal government apparatus saddled with restoring sanity on port access roads has reiterated that no agency of the federal government is allowed to carryout checks or mount checkpoints on port access roads.
Apparently disturbed by the continuous traffic gridlock on the port access roads, the Federal Government had in April 2022 inaugurated “Operation Free The Ports Corridor” to ensure easy movement in and out of the seaports.
However, investigations have shown that some government agencies were still trying to find their way back to the port access.
This is even as the PSTT last week dislodged some officials of the Vehicles Inspection Officials (VIO) who mounted a checkpoint at Coconut Bus stop outbound Tin Can Island Port and were allegedly collecting N100,000 and N120,000 penalties from truck drivers.
The PSTT is domiciled in the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) and it is made up of officers of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Offences Commission (ICPC), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Directorate of State Services (DSS) charged with implementation of the Nigerian Ports Process Manual (NPPM).
Confirming the situation to DAILY TREND in Apapa on Monday, National Cordinator of PSTT, Comrade Moses Fadipe said the team was inundated with complaints from the truck drivers about the presence of VIO officials on the port road, and that the team subsequently moved into action.
Comrade Fadipe said “We got an information on the 6th of December that the VIO are now mounting checkpoints at the Tin Can Port Corridor immediately after the Coconut Bridge outbound to Mile 2, with evidences of trucks they apprehended sent to us.
“We were shocked that after the federal government declared the Operation Free the Port Corridor which the Federal Ministry of Transportation flagged off on 24th of April 2022 on all outbound and inbound routes on the port corridor which is called the ‘Port Logistics Ring’, where every agencies of government has been sent off, I am now surprised that the VIO would now be mounting a checkpoint there.
“This we see as an aberration because the Federal Government has just signed the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) this year, part of the rule of engagement is that your port must be free of all impediments, pinning down and mounting checkpoints.
“This development made the PSTT officials to visit that same spot on the 7th of December 2022 and the VIO officials were met there.
We have no option than to dislodge them and make the corridor free by releasing all the trucks seized.
“I think it is high time we start sensitizing and educating ourselves that these things does not happen in other climes, we have kept educating people on why the port corridor must be free of impediments, it is a barrier to trade whether you like it or not, and all these things have consequences on the economy of a nation.
“We are equally using this opportunity to send a note of warning to all agencies under whatever guises , that the port corridor are not meant for checking, pinning down or any activities from state and non state actors.
“Activities are carried out inside the port , if there is any reason to apprehend any truck, it is better you follow them to their warehouse, because a trailer or truck cannot fly, why can’t you follow it to its destination and carry out your arrest” he said
Comrade Fadipe reiterated to all stakeholders in the port industry that the port logistics ring is not a place to carryout checkpoints or illegal activities.
Continuing, the PSTT Boss narrated that “From what the drivers of the trucks were saying, they were crying foul to say that VIO was imposing a fine on them to the tune of N100,000 and N120,000.
But what we are saying is that, if you want to carryout your statutory duties as to road worthiness of the truck, you are not supposed to do it on the road.
“Remember that the enlarged port standing task team includes the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) and they have taken care of all these aspects”
Comrade Fadipe noted that the Nigeria Customs Service is complying by the rules of engagement, especially in the area of stopping already cleared containers along the port access. He noted that all these is no longer happening on the port logistics ring, adding that Customs can do their roving but they cannot pin down and they are abiding by it.
Given the coming festivities, Comrade Fadipe acknowledged that there has been an improvement in movement of trucks in and out of the port.
He said that this has been helped greatly by the reopening of the Marine Bridge by the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing.
According to him, the bridge which was shutdown four months ago for repairs was reopened last week Monday.
“Last week, the bridge in from of Leventis Ijora has been opened by the federal ministry of works, this has greatly helped to ease the gridlock.
“On the Tin Can Island Port side, the road has been done, from there up to Mile 2, the traffic is flowing and it is better than what we witnessed in the past, it has improved greatly” he said