Following the decision by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to commence the implementation of minimum safety standards for trucks moving cargoes in and out of the ports, members of the organised private sector have disclosed that such decision will lead to more congestion, high demurrage payments and raw materials being stuck at the ports. NPA had on July 1, 2021, commenced the implementation of minimum safety standards for trucks, a scheme anchored on the “Eto” platform. It is expected to restrict old trucks from having access into the port corridor. The decision is to stop incessant breakdown of trucks on port acess roads, thereby causing traffic gridlock. With the scheme in place, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) have raised the alarm that the business community and manufacturing firms were going to pay heavily for demurrage and incur other fines since it won’t be easy to see new trucks in the country to meet the requirements.
The investors said this would further aggravate mass extortions and inducements by law enforcement agencies at the gateway. MAN stated that the order was good in all ramifications but that NPA needed to reconsider its stance as most logistics and distribution firms cannot afford new trucks due to the high cost as a result of current foreign exchange crisis. An official of MAN, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, explained that since the announcement of the new MSS scheme, manufacturers and the business community had been complaining over delay in shipment of containing with raw materials.
The MAN source revealed that the scheme had affected many transport and logistics firms with millions of naira lost on a daily basis. Meanwhile, President of the LCCI, Mrs. Toki Mabogunje, while reacting to the eto call up, said that there was no doubt the scheme was returning congestion and gridlock, saying it was slowing down trade facilitation in the country. She said the introduction of the electronic call-up system was not curbing port congestion but rather brewing mass extortions by law enforcement agencies. While speaking on the MSS scheme, the NPA image maker and General Manager Corporate & Strategic Communications, Olaseni Alakija, said the decision became effective, only after several consultations with stakeholders, including the leadership of the various trucking groups doing business at the port, with the Nigerian Ports Authority. “The Nigerian Ports Authority has mandated the implementation of Minimum Safety Standards (MSS) scheme for trucks, anchored on the “Eto” platform, effective Thursday 1 July 2021,” Alakija highlighted.