Saturday, September 25, 2021

Apapa Gridlock: Problem Of E-Call Up Implementation – Bello-Koko

Apapa gridlock
Apapa gridlock

The acting managing director of the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello-Koko, has identified inadequate physical infrastructure (truck parks) as a major constraint in the implementation of the e-call up system.

He pointed out this in his presentation at a webinar titled ‘Apapa gridlock: Accelerating implementation of e-call up policy’ convened today (July 26) by the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), saying the traffic management along the access roads to the ports in Lagos had been a major challenge to the Nigerian Ports Authority. 

To nip this challenge in the bud, the chief executive said the NPA had mandated all shipping companies involved in container operations to establish empty container holding bays.

“The e-call up system is hinged on three components, namely physical infrastructure, information technology and stakeholders’ collaboration. There are also hindrances to accelerating the implementation, such as the e-call up system like any other novel project has its teething problems and the problems faced daily by truckers require the intervention of the Lagos State government, Messrs Truck Transit Park Limited and Nigerian Ports Authority,” he pointed out.

The president, ACCI, Dr. Al-Mujtaba Abubakar, in his opening remark, said the Apapa Port is an integral part of, and a strategic gateway to Nigerian economy but unfortunately, it had been bedeviled with continued occurrence of gridlock. 

“As a chamber, we suggest and encourage a sustained and expanded collaboration between the Port Authority and the Lagos State government to dismantle the forces behind the incessant gridlock at the Apapa Port. There is need for the government to introduce sanctions in the enforcement process. Multiple agencies operating at the port also need to harmonize their operations to reduce the current hardship in the clearance of goods at the port,” he said.

He said the gridlock had for so many years disrupted so many businesses and worsened Nigeria’s rating on Ease of Doing Business (EDB), adding ACCI had in early 2018 hosted a roundtable on the traffic situation at the Lagos Port. 

“The well-attended event came up with several solutions among which were proposals for an e-call up system to manage trucking system at Apapa. We were glad that the management of NPA eventually introduced the digital system among other new ideas to ease traffic flow at the port. However, the implementation of the e-call up system has not gone as smoothly as envisaged.

“Consequently, ACCI launched a survey study on experiences of users and stakeholders with the e-call up system. A synopsis of the report will be presented to the NPA management at this webinar, while the full report of the study will be presented to the NPA managing director in Lagos at a later date,” he added.

A statement by the ACCI media/strategy officer, Olayemi John-Mensah, said Abubakar who commended the efforts of the Federal Government to extend rail connections to the port as a major step toward achieving inter-modality within the national transport network also said, it would improve the movement of containerized goods while also lauding the current efforts to complete the Lekki Deep Sea Port under a public private partnership. 

In her remarks, the ACCI director-general, Victoria Akai who appreciated every participant at the webinar also lauded the Ag. MD, NPA for his willingness to collaborate with the organised private sector through advocacy avenues to discuss on moving port operations forward even in these critical times. 

“Indeed, government and the private sector are partners in progress. Thank you for making exports a priority, this is indeed important for the diversification efforts to improve our GDP and further create wealth for our people by taking advantage of international trade opportunities. The ultimate desire is to have a more functional and efficient ports operations,” she pointed out.

She also expressed appreciation to the chamber’s president, Dr. Al-Mujtaba Abubakar for his relentless efforts in advocating for favorable policies and initiatives for the general benefits of the private sector in the country. 

The DG equally commended another panelist, the executive director of African International Trade and Commerce Research, Mr. Sand Kalu Mba, for connecting the consequences of operations at the ports to the real time effects on lives and families, describing it as a fundamental point as we carry out our daily activities and make policies.

“This has been an engaging programme and we assure you that the report of this webinar and the survey will be made available for all and we will formally submit the report to the leadership of Nigeria’s Ports Authority,” she added.

Oluchi Okorafor
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