NPA assures Tin Can port access road completion will eliminate Apapa gridlock - THE GUARDIAN
By Adaku Onyenucheya
• Electronic-call up system records 80 per cent traffic reduction
• Only 16,000 trucks meet minimum safety standards
The Acting Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello-Koko, has said the completion of the entire stretch of the Tin Can port highway will totally eliminate the perennial gridlock within Apapa and its environs.
Bello-Koko, who made this disclosure as a guest on a breakfast programme, monitored recently in Lagos, explained that while the authority is not unmindful of the pains of Apapa residents, what remains is to address the gridlock caused by the failed portion along the Mile 2 – Tin-Can port road.
The NPA boss disclosed that the incremental deployment of the electronic call-up infrastructure for cargo trucks, known as “Eto”, which was launched in February this year, has to a large extent, resolved the endemic Apapa vehicular gridlock, even as the authority keeps reviewing and improving the system.
Debunking insinuates that the ‘Eto’ system has been compromised, the NPA helmsman said, with the infrastructure upgrades, coupled with the support of the Lagos State Government and other stakeholders, the vehicular gridlock along the Ijora – Apapa axis had reduced by over 80 per cent.
He said there will be continuous improvement of the Eto system, including the deployment of additional physical and IT infrastructure as well as approvals for more transit parks to cushion the excruciating pains of truckers.
According to him, as part of efforts to kick-off the electronic call-up system, a fully automated transit truck park was established, while 29 satellite parks were approved to ensure that trucks coming to do business in the port are properly profiled and verified before accessing the port.
He said out of the 29 parks, about eight have met the required standards, which include installation of bollards, CCTVs, automated gate systems and relevant IT equipment.
He noted that apart from a few isolated cases, where some truck drivers try to subvert the system by not adhering strictly to the truck manifest arrangement with its attendant disruption, the e-call up has been able to streamline cargo evacuation and truck movements, thereby bringing a level of sanity to the roads.
The NPA boss declared that a total of 80,000 trucks have so far registered on the ‘Eto’ platform, however, only 16, 000 trucks have met the minimum safety standards.
He said this is an indication that more work is needed to enthrone safety and prevent accidents within the port area.
Bello-Koko equally attributed the elimination of the Apapa gridlock to the new policy introduced by the authority, which compelled shipping lines to ship out no less than 80 per cent of the number of containers shipped in, for every voyage be it empty containers or export cargo.
“Over time, we discovered that most shipping lines were storing their empty containers in Nigeria, which was cheaper for them, but we have introduced a policy whereby shipping companies should take back 80 per cent of the laden containers they brought into the country from the stock of empties and export cargo, without which such operators would not be allowed to sail out of the ports. This has also reduced the number of trucks with empty containers waiting on the roads,” he said.
The NPA boss stated further that the authority has fully embraced multimodal transportation by encouraging better use of barges and port-rail, for the movement of laden and empty containers in and out of the ports, a development that has brought a significant reduction in the cost of doing business at the ports.