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Here are 3 major setbacks to electronic call-up in Apapa

The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) recently introduced an electronic solution to managing the traffic congestion in Apapa corridor known as Eto. It is a platform where truckers could log on, schedule and get the necessary approval to go into the port in batches.

Eto gives clarity on the truck that can go into the port and whether there is a space for the truck in terminal and this ensures there is sanity within the Apapa and Tin-Can Island Ports corridor.

Within the framework of Eto, the NPA designated some approved truck parks, where trucks need to go and park, wait to be called up before they can get into the port. Also, truckers also have pre-gate, which is the last bus-stop before the trucks gets into the port.

This, according to the NPA, was done to remove human intervention, rent-seeking as well as layers of bureaucratic bottlenecks created by tons of taskforces appointed in the past to manage truck traffic into the port.

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Sadly, one month into its introduction, the call-up system has been finding it difficult to deal with management of truck traffic within Apapa corridor. This can be attributed to three major reasons and they are:

Export cargo challenges

With the coming of Eto, the NPA discovered some challenges with export cargo, which resulted in the current congestion being experienced within Apapa corridor and this forced NPA to suspend receipt of export goods for two weeks after over 600 trucks approached the port at the same time from truck parks and Lilypond Terminal.

A lot of export cargo carrying trucks approach the port without completing their documentation, and this has been the challenge the NPA have in terms of the readiness of terminal operators to receive the cargoes, said Hadiza Bala Usman, managing director of the NPA.

Many of these trucks have not completed the certifications required from the supervisory agencies based on the type of export they are carrying, and this include Customs certifications and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) documents that they need to complete. They supposed to complete these documentations before leaving their facilities.

Recognising that as a problem, NPA invited the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) to join them in meeting with the large exporters and make them understand the procedure as it relates to export documentation process. This means that if not ready, they must remain within the truck park location without starting the journey into the port.

The Council will join the NPA to articulate with the larger exporters and conclude on what they need to do before approaching the port, and this would be done within these two weeks.

Fake call-up tickets

It was also discovered that there were pushed back from dubious minded people, who were circumventing the system by trying to sell fake call-up tickets to truckers in order to create confusion and for their personal gains.

When the NPA and its private sector partner discovered the threat, they strengthened their mechanism to ensure that such people do not succeed going forward.

Challenges with tank farms

Another challenge facing the newly introduced call-up system is the existence of over 27 tank farms within Apapa Port corridor and hundreds of tankers approach Apapa to lift these products.

Sadly, the NPA does not have regulatory oversight of these tank farmer and this exempt them from being part of the call-up system. This is another integral part of the congestion at the port corridors because movement of these tankers are not controlled with the Eto.

This, Usman said, is why liquid bulk should be evacuated through the pipeline because all of those tankers approaching Apapa Port corridor for petroleum products is another leg to the congestion in the port.

“If these petroleum products are moved using pipeline, there would be no congestion,” she said.

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