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Apapa: NPA says gridlock down 80% on Eto App infrastructure

The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) says the 12-year old traffic gridlock in Apapa has been cleared as much as 80 percent through the deployment of the electronic call up system and the accompanying infrastructure.

Acting managing director of the ports authority, Mohammed Bello Koko, who gave this hint at a television programme in Lagos recently, explained that the call up system, powered by Eto App, has succeeded in bringing sanity on ports access roads by controlling trucks movement.

Besides the call up system, a major development the ports authority has undertaken, according to the managing director, is promoting multi-modal transport systems through the use of barges for the movement of cargo in and out of the ports, a development, he added, has tremendously reduced congestion at most terminals, thereby improving ports efficiency.

This is good news to Apapa residents, business owners and other stakeholders, for whom reducing the hitherto intractable gridlock is a major milestone, judging from where the port city is coming from in the last 12 years.

But, according to them, the Apapa story can only change completely when the federal government wakes up to the reality of the need for a good and functional rail system that would move containerized cargo out of the ports in thousands as against hundreds done currently by trucks.

Read Also: Presidential Task Team on Apapa gridlock takes stock handover

Stakeholders observe that the remaining 20 percent of gridlock on the roads could easily be located on Apapa-Oshodi Expressway which is still largely impassable for the long stretch of the expressway from Berger-Under-Bridge to Tin Can Second Gate up to Liverpool Bridge.

But Bello Koko had an explanation for that: “The little remnants of the gridlock on some of the port access roads are as a result of the hiccups occasioned by the very poor state of the Tin Can Port-Mile2 corridor,” he explained. He hoped that as soon as the road construction was completed, the gridlock would be completely eliminated.

The reconstruction and rehabilitation of the 118-kilometre expressway is being done by the Dangote Group under the federal government’s Infrastructure-Tax-Credit initiative. Chairman/CEO of the group, Aliko Dangote, disclosed during an inspection of the road that the project would cost about N73 billion.

The NPA boss regretted that because of the poor state of the expressway, notably at Tin Can, Cocoa Nut –Mile 2 axis, most of which were at various stages of reconstructions, the Eto Infrastructure has not been deployed in the area.

Though the 80 percent estimate by Koko seems far from being conservative, traffic on the Apapa-Ijora axis has been reduced considerably and that is, according to him, verifiable, especially with scenes on the Ijaro-Apapa Bridge which had become a parking bay for trucks, but is now largely free.

Bello attributed all these to the deployment of infrastructure under the e-call up system, adding that the identification and development of about 29 truck parks across Lagos also played a part, more so as it enjoyed the collaboration of relevant stakeholders, including the Lagos State government

“Out of the 29 parks, about eight have fully deployed the Eto Infrastructure, which include automated gating systems and other Information Technology IT equipment,” he disclosed.

He noted however that there are few isolated cases where some truck drivers tried to subvert the system by not adhering strictly to the trucks manifest requirement, which causes hiccups. But overall, the e-call up has been able to streamline cargo evacuation and truck movements, thereby bringing a level of sanity to the roads.

Koko pointed out other measures the authority has put in place that has contributed to the disappearance of the gridlock. One of such measures is a new policy that compels shipping lines to take, at least, 80 per cent of the loaded containers that they came with for every voyage in terms of empty containers and export cargo.

“Over time, we discovered that most shipping lines were storing their empty containers in Nigeria, which was cheaper for them but we introduced the policy whereby shipping companies were directed to take back 80per cent of the loaded containers they brought to the country from the stock of empties and export cargo, which also reduced the number of trucks laden with empty containers that were waiting on the roads.

“What this meant in a lay man’s language is that if a vessel brings 100 containers for instance, such vessel must take back 80 containers, which must be among the empties and export containers, without which she would not be allowed to sail out of the ports,” he explained.

Findings, however, reveal that there are a total of 80,000 trucks on the Eto platform, but only 16, 000 have met the minimum Standards Operating Procedure (SOP), meaning that despite the seeming success recorded, there is still more work to be done to perfect the new operating system.

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