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Truck e-call up: E-gate, truck registration a must for success –Experts

…call for e-call for tankers, articulated vehicles

 

With the about two weeks old electronic truck call-up system (ETO) of Nigerian Ports Authority which recommended tremendous success in its first three days already showing signs of failure, industry experts say there certain elements of the system that were not factored in before the system commenced.

 

According to the President of the National Council of Managing Director of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA) Mr. Lucky Amiwero, the truck e-call up system will be subject to manipulation if the call by electronic process is not been admitted into the port via the same system. “You can’t call up electronically, and you admit them into the port manually.

 

It means that the system is incomplete and that can become manipulated. “They should go to Ghana, Tema Port to be precise, which has been operating an ecall up system since 2013 to learn how it is done.

 

The details of the truck and the driver’s biometric is in the system and the gate electronically manned, therefore if a truck is called up, the driver drives to the gate, tomb prints for the gate to open electronically.

 

If the driver is not the right person, the gate won’t open even though the truck is the right truck, the gate will still not open. So the three factors that make up the system is the truck, the driver and the gate, all must be controlled electronically for success.

 

“In this case, the trucks are not known, the drivers are not known and the port gate is manually operated, there will still be human contact and anything can still happen that could disrupt the smooth operation of the system. It is meant to totally eliminate human contact. I call on NPA to go back to the drawing board,” Amiwero said.

 

Also speaking, the Coordinator of Save Nigeria Freight Forwarders, Importers and Exporters Coalition (SNFFIEC), Dr Osita Chukwu, said that though the registration exercise of trucks started by NPA last time was bungled and marred by irregularities, the Ports Authority need to re-introduce it because all the trucks that will operate the new must be in the electronic system for synchronization from the point call-up and the gate where the truck is electronically admitted into the port.

 

According to him, the drivers must as well be registered with their biometrics inputted into the system, saying that makes it impossible for manipulation or people trying in any way to sabotage the system either for pecuniary reasons or just to make it fail.

 

“If the trucks are registered and they are in the system, if the system is calling up, it knows the truck and its driver and system admits, no strange person can just enter the truck and drive it to the port because the system will reject it,” Dr. Chukwu said.

 

According to him, if registration of the truck and driver is done there will be no need for lining up security men on the road for purposes of enforcement because if the system does not recognise you, you can never access all the ports.

Meanwhile, former President of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr Eugene Nweke has lauded the courage of the Managing Director of NPA, Ms Hadiza Bala Usman on the take of the electronic truck call-up system, saying, however, that the objective of bring the Apapa gridlock to an effective end might be a mirage if the tankers lifting petroleum products and the articulated vehicles carrying fish from the Ibru Jetty are not brought into the electronic call-up system.

“The tankers lifting petroleum products  and articulated vehicles carrying from the Ibru Jetty are not in the e-call up system, that is why it is business as usual for them, infact, it is better for them now that only them take over the roads without the containers vehicles on the road.

 

However, they’re causing a lot of congestion and depriving the people from feeling the full impact of the cull-up system. “I think that needs to be taken care of. Another important factor is NPA ensuring that there is back-up in case we experience collapse of the system of network failure,” he said.

 

At the launch of the system, the Managing Director of NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman said: “Between February and the next three months, we will have many teething issues with the e-call-up.

 

But I believe we will succeed in its implementation.” Usman noted that there has been some level of scepticism on the part of truckers, especially those that have not been able to download and register with the app, saying it would take a while, up to a month, for such people to understand that e-call up has come to stay.

 

“There are also several layers of beneficiaries of the inefficiencies in management of truck traffic into the port that are campaigning actively to see how it will fail,” she said, adding that NPA from inception knows that there would be some push-backs, especially from the group that is benefiting from the chaos.

 

While pleading with port users and the entire Apapa community to be patient with the system, she said there is hope that the situation would be arrested in less than no time. “Our team has been meeting on a daily basis to review the situation and strategies for the next day.

 

It has not been easy for us but we will not relent until we achieve our aim,” said a source close to Truck Transit Park Limited. Meanwhile, some truckers, who spoke on the call- up system, blamed network failure, unstable internet and illiteracy on the part of transporters for the inability of the e-call up system to work Over the weekend, it was quite challenging gaining access into Apapa.

 

The situation became worse on Monday afternoon, after early morning reprieve, as the trucks in their old fashion surged from all directions towards the ports. From asking if the call-up system has collapsed, Apapa road users and other major stakeholders are now asking if the Lagos State government and authorities of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), which introduced the new system, are already overwhelmed.

 

Since last weekend, just three days after the call-up system was introduced with remarkable success, the gridlock that has become a by-word for Apapa came back forcefully.

“It is difficult to believe that just nine days after this e-call up system was introduced, we are back to this mess in Apapa,” a resident who preferred to be anonymous told our correspondent on Monday after a hectic outing.

 

“It is all the more surprising that this is happening despite the tough manner that both the Lagos State government and NPA talked preparatory to the introduction of the call-up system. I really thought Apapa would be out of the woods at last,” the anonymous resident fumed.

 

The resident was not alone in asking if Lagos and NPA were overwhelmed or tired of Apapa just a week after.

 

“Are we back to the status quo ante? Have Lagos and NPA done their best? What has happened to this system so early in the day? These were some of the questions motorists were asking on Monday.

 

But the NPA had an explanation to give. Hadiza Bala Usman, NPA’s MD said that the e-call up system was facing some teething problems, which the Truck Transit Park Limited, the private company in charge of ETO App, is working seriously to resolve. In addition to this, cargo owners should note that empty containers can only be returned to the ports through the approved holding bays of shipping companies using the ETO Platform.

 

It is the responsibility of the shipping company to move empty containers from their holding bay to the Port. All cargo owners have to do is drop their empty containers at the holding bay of the shipping company.

 

The shipping company will then make the necessary bookings on the ETO platform to return empty containers to the Port.

 

The management of the NPA solicits the cooperation of transporters, truck drivers, cargo owners, clearing agents shipping companies and all port users in the implementation of the project, which will bring order and sanity to the ports access roads.

 

Non-compliance to the use of ETO and its guidelines will result in denial of access into the Ports, impounding of trucks and withdrawal of registration/operating license

 

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