By Babajide Okeowo
It appears the much-touted electronic call-up system set up by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to arrest the movement of trucks operating in Apapa and environs has collapsed as gridlock on the port access roads has fully returned.
A visit to Apapa yesterday for the Maritime Association of Nigeria, MARAN grand reception in honour of Adeleye Ajayi as the Chairman Nigerian Union of Journalist, Lagos Chapter revealed a long line of trucks blocking the roads and bridge at Ijora and at Tin Can thereby hampering free movement into the Lagos Port Complex and Tin Can Island Port Complex and other adjoining areas.
The trucks heading to Apapa port blocked the road from Eleganza Plaza on Wharf Road all the way to the National Arts Theatre at Iganmu, while the trucks heading to Tin Can port backed up from the Second Gate all the way to Mile Two.
It appears both NPA and the Lagos traffic management team are helpless and the port roads have, once again, become free for all.
Recall that NPA rolled out the electronic call-up system on February 27 with promises by the Managing Director of the authority, Hadiza Bala Usman, that the new system was the much-needed elixir to Apapa gridlock. NPA launched an app called ETO, which truckers are expected to use to book turns to enter the port.
NPA also designated some truck parks for the port-bound trucks. The trucks were expected to wait at the truck parks until it is their turn to enter the port. However, both the online booking system and truck park arrangement have fallen like a pack of cards as the trucks – tankers, container trucks, breakbulk cargo trucks, and factory trucks – have returned fully to the roads.
Some freight forwarders and truck drivers who spoke recently noted their displeasure with the implementation of the electronic call-up system, saying the process was fraught with several irregularities.
“The implementation of the electronic truck call-up system has not been effective because the government is sabotaging all efforts at resolving the issue of the gridlock at the port.
Organising several committees of a taskforce to address the situation is not the solution, as it is an avenue to enrich certain individuals through sharp practices and other illegal activities at the port access roads. It is not a matter of committee or collaboration because there is a conspiracy among the people deployed to that arena.
The cabals of that arena will not allow solutions to come to pass. If it has taken the government many decades to solve the gridlock and it is yet to be solved, this shows something is fishy. I heard some certain trucks have been selected for the electronic call-up system, so tell me what happens to the rest of the trucks and the owners?
The government needs to be fair to everyone and they need to do things judiciously,” a freight forwarder, Chris Agba, said.
A truck driver, Umar Nasiru, said he did not believe the electronic call-up system would solve the gridlock. He said the authorities should work on the road instead, “because the road is very bad and nothing has been done about it for years”.
NPA and the Lagos State traffic management team, unfortunately, have been playing the usual blame game since the resurgence of the traffic chaos, while commuters and port operations continue to bear the brunt of their inefficiencies.