APAPA TRAFFIC ISSUES, STAKEHOLDERS BLOW HOT.
The Powerful Pen Media Chapel, a brainchild of the Maritime Journalists Association of Nigeria organised a seminar titled ” Apapa Traffic and Skyrocketing Inflation in the Country: Effects on Ports Operations and the Maritime Industry”.
Speaking at the occasion, the Chairman and Managing Director of Bontex Nigeria Limited and also a member of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents(ANLCA) Chief Boniface Okoye suggested that the Federal Government should call all the Shipping Companies to order, as he believes that the Government knows how to handle the situation. He said that it seems that we need to have another kind of #endsars campaign in the Maritime Industry before the crying voices of the people are heard and adhered to as he said that this seems the only language that the Government understands to put things in place.
He criticized the Nigeria Shippers Council (NSC) for their inability to regulate what the Importers pay to the Shipping Companies, but rather approves whatever they charge because of pecuniary interests.
According to Chief Okoye, the same group of people are the owners of the terminals, Shipping Companies and barge operation, making it difficult to regulate the maritime sector, he wonders why Government had to allow cabals to take over the sector.
He also lamented how he had to pay #600.000 to move his cargo from Tin can Port to Satellite town in Lagos as he said that initially they pay the sum of #200,000.00 for same cargo over same distance.
Chief Okoye accused some middlemen sponsored by a cabal which he said had taken over most of the business of trucking goods in and out of the ports, and are responsible for the high cost of cargo delivery in Nigeria. He talked about his experience in Dubai where in his presence, a ship brought in 7,000 containers easily from China, but that it was extremely difficult to convince some shopping companies to move some containers from Dubai to Lagos as they complained about the hellish experiences that people encounter while bringing in cargoes to the Lagos Ports.
On his part, the chairman of the Tin Can chapter of the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents, Mr. Kareem Isa Adua reiterated the need for the Shipping Companies and Terminal Operators to provide holding bays for empty containers and as well as stopping the act of collecting storage fees and demurrage from Importers and Agents and also putting an end to the practice of collecting #40,000.00 from truckers before trucks are admitted into the Ports to drop empty containers.
The former Vice chairman of the National Association of Road Transport Owners, Lagos State, Mr Abdullahi GG Inua in his contribution noted that about 80 percent of the trucks you see parked by the roadside or trapped in traffic around Apapa are actually carrying empty containers to be dropped off at the Ports, he lamented that many of their trucks have been turned to mobile holding bays and that the corruption in the system sometimes gives way to trucks being turned back at the Port gates after going through all the rigours of navigating the tortuous traffic.
The discussants at the seminar generally agreed that the Government Agencies that have the responsibilities of managing the facilities and regulating activities in and around the Ports should live up to their responsibilities and channel their energy and resources towards making the Ports more efficient in every consideration. They also advocate for the proper activation of all the Eastern Ports to reduce the pressure on the Lagos Ports.
At the end of the seminar, a communique to be sent to the Government was drafted by the organisers.