By Kenneth Jukpor
Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has concluded plans to introduce an electronic truck call-up system at Lagos port access roads, next month.
The Managing Director of NPA, Ms Hadiza Bala-Usman revealed this yesterday while hosting the executive members of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) at NPA headquarters.
As part of efforts to ensure that the proposed electronic call-up system would be successful, the NPA boss stated that the Authority was open to suggestions from the freight forwarding group and other stakeholders in the port sector to prevent problems in the manual truck call-up system from reoccurring.
Noting that the issue of empty container holding bays is still an issue causing gridlock along the port access roads, Bala-Usman stated that the Authority had concluded plans to introduce a new empty container policy.
Although the NPA boss didn’t reveal details of the empty container policy, she assured that the policy would address the problems at the ports when implemented.
Earlier, the President of NAGAFF, Chief Increase Uche had suggested that NPA concentrate more on eliminating the challenges in the manual call-up system.
Uche who led the NAGAFF delegation to NPA headquarters also noted that the Association is willing to contribute in the ongoing port concession review to prevent the challenges observed in the first agreement.
Highlighting the challenges facing freight forwarders at the ports, the NAGAFF President noted that the traffic gridlock in Apapa which started since 2008 has been the biggest challenge.
He also stressed the need for deep seaports as the shallow draft of the Eastern ports have prevented importers from using the ports despite NPA’s recent 10% discount on shipping dues at the Eastern ports.
On the ease of doing business agenda at the ports, he queried, “Where is the efficiency of services provided at ports? Where is the competition and competitiveness which the port concession was projected to address? As freight forwarders, we are bearing the brunt of the inefficiencies the port system and traffic congestion”
He expressed worry on NPA’s alleged plans to shelve the Badagry deep seaport project, stating that NAGAFF had discovered the potentials of Badagry deep seaport in 2000 and discussed the opportunity with the Oba of Badagry at that time.
In her reaction, the Managing Director explained that NPA hadn’t abandoned the Badagry deep seaport project. She noted that the misconception started after a journalist misrepresented her views on a national daily but later published a retraction which was also published on the medium.
“NPA is mindful of the fact that deep seaports are needed and we have provided the necessary approval for the Lekki deep seaport to commence. They have started the construction of the breakwater and they are reaching financial closure in September to enable them conclude the project within the specified time”, she assured.