Business

Stakeholders blame suspended MD, Bala-Usman as truck e-call up fails

…say trucks stay over 2 months in Transit Parks

…Some big operators specially favoured

 

As it becomes apparent that the suspended Managing Director of Nigerian Port Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala-Usman’s signature project, the truck e-call-up system (otherwise referred to as ETO), has failed, industry stakeholders at the Annual Transport Lecture on Friday in Lagos said the special favour granted to big industry operators in the port, Dangote’s Green View Development to access the ports anytime without recourse to the e-call up policy was one of the key reason for the failure of the project which gulped billion naira of scarce government resources.

 

While calling on the Corp Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corps, Dr Boboye Oyeyemi, to in conjunction with the Lagos State Government and the President of ANLCA, Iju Tony Nwabunike to intervene to rescue the situation as small truck operators who incidentally are in the majority are made to stay at the transit parks for over two months before they could be called, while on the other hand hundreds of trucks of the said big operator, goes in and out of the port everyday unhindered.

 

“In other climes such trucks belonging to the owners of industries in the port would have been made to be operating at night, but in this case they have taken over the entire space, causing massive traffic gridlock and making it impossible for the e-call up system to work.

 

These special favours to big men is what is killing us, we are not working at all, Dele Omajuwa a transport operator lamented.

 

He said: “ETO has failed. It only wipes off the truck operators’ pocket”, he said, noting that hardly was the N10, 000 per truck levy introduced, than it was hiked to N30, 000.

 

He specifically noted that the NPA rather than wait on the terminals to give the green light, before authorising a truck to move, all they do is collect their money, legal and illegal, and shortly after, the truck is on its way to the port. According to him, things are fast getting worse than when the Presidential Task Team was here.

 

A customs officer who spoke on conditions of anonymity said he knew the arrangements would fail.

“The current arrangement allows the NPA to collect the money; and the Lagos State Government to do the entire job. There’s no direct way for the functionaries, particularly the LASTMA to be motivated, except by extortion.

 

So, everyone works for two hours in the morning, and relax; and shortly afterwards, the gridlock begins. “When the Presidential Task Team was here, you could always see a body on the ground to call. Now, there is none”, Majowa explained. In response to the call on the ANLCA President and the FRSC boss to intervene, Mr. Iju Tony Nwabunike lamented that the type gridlock in the Apapa in recent times, has never been as bad.

 

He said that the solution will come in tackling the problem from the foundation. Also, speaking in the same vein, Mr. Mike Egbayelo, former Deputy Secretary, Apapa Security Trust Fund, urged the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to review the electronic call-up system for trucks to tackle the Apapa gridlock. Egbayelo who gave the advice on Thursday in Lagos noted that the electronic callup structure was not working and needed to be reviewed. He also stressed the need to eradicate the network of corruption due to traffic management mechanisms. “The residents experience a lot of stress coming into Apapa and sometimes cannot meet up with their appointments. “Some of us have relocated our offices out of Apapa and we are not really happy about that,” he said. He also observed that due to the gridlock on Apapa road, truck drivers now resort to using any available space for convenience. Egbayelo said the development was causing serious negative environmental and health hazards to the residents. He added that the gridlock had affected business activities negatively and made life unbearable for the residents. “The impact on the economy is so huge that we have so many losses, so many companies have closed down, and the impact on the environment is so bad. “Due to the gridlock, we have drivers using all the available space as convenience and this poses a serious threat to the residents,” he said.

 

It would be recalled that the electronic truck call-up system, also known as Eto, was introduced by the NPA on Feb. 27 for the management of truck movement. All trucks doing business at the ports were required to park at the approved truck parks until they are called up into the port through the ETO app.

 

The ETO app will be responsible for the scheduling, entry and exit of all trucks into the ports. Unfortunately, since the introduction of the Eto app, it has been saddled with many challenges as the gridlock still persists, often with no one to be pinned down to take responsibility.

 

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