IN apparent defiance to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s vacation order, truck drivers have practically shut down Oshodi-Apapa expressway, causing untold pains to motorists and residents.
Following the Lagos State zero tolerance on indiscriminate parking by truck drivers in Apapa axis, sanity returned. However, the free-flow of traffic has disappeared along Oshodi-Apapa expressway, inward port access roads, in the last three days.
Between Second Rainbow and Mile 2, there was a tight gridlock on the Oshodi-Apapa expressway, yesterday, contrary to the governor’s directive.
Also, most heavy-duty vehicle drivers have relocated to some inner roads like Kirikiri Avenue, parking indiscriminately along the road.
The Special Joint Traffic Team, recently established to manage the traffic on the directive of Governor Sanwo-Olu, as well as men of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA, as of 5 pm, yesterday, were nowhere to be found.
Efforts to get the reaction of Mr. Sola Giwa, special adviser on Transportation to the Governor, and Bolaji Oreagba, general manager, LASTMA, were unsuccessful as of press time.
Those who work and live or have one form of business transaction or the other in the axis had harrowing experiences driving through the road.
Vanguard gathered that impunity and corruption in the administration of the Electronic Call-Up System (Eto) for trucks by the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, and its technical partner -Truck Transit Park Limited, TTP, have returned, leading to trucks parking indiscriminately on the road.
Recently, freight forwarders operating at Lagos Ports raised an alarm over the return of impunity and corruption in the administration of the Eto for trucks.
Freight forwarders alleged that the Call-Up system for trucks which was initially issued for N27,000 is now being hoarded and made available to very few cabals, who are now reselling it for N150,000.
NPA had recently, temporarily suspended the release of flatbed trucks from Satellite truck parks to Pre-gate from entering various terminals inside the Lagos Port Complex.
Speaking on the attendant challenges currently being experienced as a result of the NPA decision, Chairman of Lilypond Export Chapter of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, ANLCA, Mr Femi Olabanji, lamented that the ongoing corruption has led to an increase in haulage prices.
According to him, trucking of cargoes from the port has increased from N400,000 to between N800,000 and N1.2million.
His words: “Right now, trucks can no longer enter the terminal because the TTP and NPA would tell you that the portal is full. People are now going through the expressway directly into the port. This is a practice that has since been stopped through the introduction of the Call up system.
“Today, people are buying the Call up for as much as N150,000 from TTP for the main truck park.
“We are begging the government to look into this problem, we believe that NPA officials and TTP are the ones behind this corruption, without the backing of port officials, the Call up system which we are doing for N27,000 cannot be sold for N150,000.
“Meanwhile, demurrage on a 40ft container at APM Terminal is N60,000 per day, while 20ft container demurrage is N45,000. Before now, we were paying N15,000 as terminal charges before it suddenly increased.
“These cabals would pass their trucks at night between 8pm till early in the morning.
“However, the normal trucks would not be allowed into the port in the afternoon because the ones that entered at night are still inside. The TTP has turned the port into a business point.
“Initially, when you come into Lilypond truck park, within two days you are out with your consignment from the port but today it is no longer like that.
“The Managing Director of NPA, the Port Police, the Lagos State Government, the Shippers Council and everyone concerned should look into this problem to avert crisis. In the past three weeks our trucks cannot go into the port.
“They are telling us the portal is full and that we cannot go into the terminal, but they are generating the call-up system and selling it for N150,000.
“The TTP system needs to be upgraded. They have returned us to the old system whereby cabals control the movement of trucks into the port, they would not allow the right thing to be done, they have paralysed the system and the TTP has accepted them.
“After buying the Call up for N150,000, you would use N30,000 to pass the truck into the port, sometimes, you can spend N200,000 before entering the port. This has taken away the whole gains of achievements recorded before.
“Now there is a hike in haulage price because there are only special trucks that can go into the port. To take cargo from the port is now N800,000 upwards.”
In a notice to truck drivers, owners and other stakeholders, the management of TTP, on behalf of NPA said that the release of trucks from the pre-gates will be made to match truck admittance of the various terminals.
According to the recent notice, some levels of delays in the release of trucks from the satellite parks to the pre-gates are anticipated.
The notice read in part: “Following the resolution of the Eto Call up Project Implementation Committee, PIC on Thursday, November 2, 2023 around the need for improvement in traffic management along the LPC road corridor, the NPA has directed that the process for the release of flatbed trucks from Satellite parks to the pre-gates and LPC be halted temporarily.”
Call up system has crashed
On its part, the management of the Truck Transit Park, TTP Nigeria Limited, and truckers under the aegis of Council of Maritime Transport Unions and Association, COMTUA, have blamed the failure of the e-call up system, lack of enforcement on the part of the enforcement team set up by the Lagos State Government and non-inclusion of tankers in the call-up system for the return of gridlock along the Second Rainbow inward Tin-can Island port.
Speaking with Vanguard, President of COMTUA, Yinka Aroyewun, said that the e-call up system has crashed. He also blamed disorganised operation of tanker drivers and operators who park indiscriminately along the road because they seem to be above the law and are uncontrollable.
The President of COMTUA also alleged that members of the enforcement team of the Lagos State government comprising LASTMA, Police, and others are conniving with hoodlums to extort truckers.
He accused members of the enforcement team of empowering hoodlums to extort truckers and truck drivers who refused to pay to the hoodlums are arrested.
He also alleged that officials of the security unit of the NPA, who check e-call up tickets, are also involved in the extortion.
According to him, “The activities of hoodlums, the crashed e-call up system, disorganized operation of tanker drivers and tank farm operators are the cause of the return of the gridlock.”
Credit: Vanguard News Nigeria