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Apapa gridlock: Transporters say e-call fraudulent, embark on protest

AMG Logistics Nigeria

Truckers affiliated with Tin Can Island Transporter Operators claim that the automated call-up system has failed to alleviate traffic congestion and that the operation is illegitimate.

To that end, they started a three-day protest on Tuesday to draw the attention of the federal and state governments to the flaws in the Nigerian Ports Authority’s newly implemented electronic call system.

This comes only a month after the NPA launched an e-call-up system aimed at alleviating traffic congestion along the Apapa port corridor and promoting trade facilitation.

If the concerned authorities do not comply with their requests, the truck owners have threatened to withdraw their services from the country’s seaport.

They held placards that read, “NPA must provide truck parks,” “Check operations at Sunrise Bus-stop,” and “We oppose garage select approvals” during the protest on Tuesday.

Sylvester Keshiro, the transportation group’s organizer, said the involvement of security forces along the Mile2-Sunrise corridor presented a significant threat to the operators, speaking to a crowd at Tin Can Island Port’s second gate on Tuesday.

The numerous holding bays reserved for vehicles, according to Keshiro, who is also a chieftain of the Nigerian Road Transport Employers Association, are reportedly extorting truck owners with incomprehensible and unreasonable costs.

“What we are requesting the government to do for us is for the NPA to go out with transporters to see whether the identified holding bays are actually operational or not,” he said.

“Again, let the NPA look into the sums payable for empty containers at the holding bays; at the very least, with these two truths, they’ll realize the holding bays and call-up system aren’t working.

“We just want the NPA to come along with us and see the Sunrise bus stop and see for themselves what is going on and how they can change their ways.”

The coordinator bemoaned the fact that after 48 hours, operators of allocated holding bays charged truckers as much as N180,000.

Another transporter, Patrick Okonkwo, clarified that the e-call up was not intended to incur extra costs for truck drivers, or that the allocated holding bay would charge additional money after 48 hours.

After 48 hours, an extra N16,000 was deducted as demurrage charges, according to Okonkwo, a condition the trucker claims is fraud.

Meanwhile, Hadiza Bala-Usman, the NPA’s Managing Director, claims that the automated call-up system launched to speed up cargo clearance has not been hacked.

Bala-Usman revealed on a radio show that many individuals have attempted to get around the system.

She did add, though, that the authority was working on ways to prevent any hijacking of that process.

With impact from Monday, Bala-Usman added, the authority had suspended trucks entering ports with export cargo.

She emphasized that all export cargoes will be without entry to the ports for the next two weeks due to a 600-truck backlog on the truck access routes.

“We have a backlog of over 600 trucks approaching the ports, coming out of the truck parks, which are actually in the location within the port corridors and Lilypond,” she said.

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