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Apapa gridlock: Are Lagos, NPA overwhelmed?

… e-call up facing teething problems- NPA

Though it is not always easy to come up with a new system and record 100 percent success, Lagosians, especially Apapa residents and businesses in the port city are becoming increasingly edgy, as the e-call up system introduced to control truck movement doesn’t seem to be working.

For the better of last week, just three days after the call-up system was introduced with remarkable success, the gridlock that has become a by-word for Apapa came back forcefully.

Over the weekend, it was quite challenging gaining access into Apapa. The situation became worse on Monday afternoon, after early morning reprieve, as the trucks in their old fashion surged from all directions towards the ports.

From asking if the call-up system has collapsed, Apapa road users and other major stakeholders are now asking if the Lagos State government and authorities of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), which introduced the new system, are already overwhelmed.

They are also asking if corruption is fighting back. This has become an excuse given each time a new solution to Apapa problem comes up and fails as was the case with the Presidential Task Team (PTT) chaired by no less a personality than Vice President Yemi Osinbajo himself.

“These questions have become germane because it is difficult to believe that just 9 days after this e-call up system was introduced, we are back to this mess in Apapa,” a resident who preferred to be anonymous told our correspondent on Monday after a hectic outing.

“It is all the more surprising that this is happening despite the tough manner that both the Lagos State government and NPA talked preparatory to the introduction of the call-up system. I really thought Apapa would be out of the woods at last,” the anonymous resident fumed.

The resident was not alone in asking if Lagos and NPA were overwhelmed or tired of Apapa just a week after. “Are we back to the status quo ante? Have Lagos and NPA done their best? What has happened to this system so early in the day? These were some of the questions motorists were asking on Monday.

But NPA had an explanation to give. Hadiza Bala Usman, NPA’s managing director, told BusinessDay that the e-call up system was facing some teething problems, which the Truck Transit Park Limited, the private company in charge of Eto App, is working seriously to resolve.

“Between February and the next three months, we will have many teething issues with the e-call-up. But I believe we will succeed in its implementation,” she assured.

Usman noted that there has been some level of scepticism on the part of truckers, especially those that have not been able to download and register with the app, saying it would take a while, up to a month, for such people to understand that e-call up has come to stay.

“There are also several layers of beneficiaries of the inefficiencies in management of truck traffic into the port that are campaigning actively to see how it will fail,” she said, adding that NPA from inception knows that there would be some push-backs, especially from the group that is benefiting from the chaos.

While pleading with port users and the entire Apapa community to be patient with the system, she said there is hope that the situation would be arrested in less than no time.

“Our team has been meeting on a daily basis to review the situation and strategies for the next day. It has not been easy for us but we will not relent until we achieve our aim,” said a source close to Truck Transit Park Limited.

Meanwhile, some truckers who spoke on the call- up system, blamed network failure, unstable internet and illiteracy on the part of transporters for the inability of the e-call up system to work.

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