Determined to ensure free flow of traffic in the port area and achieve ease of cargo movement in and out of the ports, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) says it has concluded plans to reform truck operations in the nation’s seaports.
The proposed reform is aimed at removing rickety and obsolete trucks that indiscriminately upturn and obstruct free flow of traffic on Nigerian roads while on transit. The Council in partnership with the World Bank is also working to find sustainable solution to the persistent traffic in Apapa, Lagos, by introducing a modern traffic management system.
Hassan Bello, executive secretary, NSC, tells BusinessDay that the Council will see to it that only registered truck companies with minimum of six trucks in their fleet will be allowed to operate in Nigerian seaports, because cargo carriage is a very serious business that requires healthy trucks.
According to Bello, it will no longer be business as usual for truck operators as many unqualified trucks will not be allowed into the port area at the completion of the reform process. For truck to qualify to operate in the port, he says such company must in addition to having a minimum of six trucks, have healthy trucks that can move on the road with limited or no hazards on the cargo on transit and other road users.
The traffic management strategy, he says, will include reviving of the truck holding-bay and transformation of NPA gate into a modern port gate and ensuring that only trucks that have business in the port are allowed to be around Apapa environment
“We discover that about 5,000 trucks come to Apapa ports every day but it is only about 1,500 trucks that are needed to do daily transaction in the port. Then, why are the other 3,500 in the port environment? Therefore, trucks must have business to be allowed to come into the port,” the NSC boss says.
“We are also intensifying actions on building of modern truck transit parks that would utilise call up system. Our Truck Transit Park would soon take off in Kogi, and the Enugu State government has also given us land in Obollo-Afor to build a transit park. We will pursue this rigorously because we believe that every local government area needs to have at least one transit park for truck operation and free flow of traffic as well as,” he says.
Industry close watchers, who believe that the proposed reform of the NSC is long overdue, say the project if effectively executed will help to position Nigerian seaports to compete favourably with other international ports of repute.
Emma Nwabunwanne, a Lagos-based importer, who commended the Shippers’ Council for the move, observes that trucks operating in the nation’s seaport are usually of low standard, and that is why there are regular breakdown of trucks carrying containerised cargoes on Nigerian roads.
This, according to Nwabunwanne, does not only obstruct free flow of traffic on the roads, but also add to damages and loss that Nigerian importers, who owed the cargo carried by the broken truck, suffer regularly.
Tony Anakebe, managing director of Gold-Link Investment Limited, who commended the Council for the proposed reform, says the reform will help to bring some measures of sanity in the port system, especially in area like Apapa-Oshodi Expressway where manmade traffic gridlocks are created for port users on daily basis.
The Council is working closely with the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners, the Association of Maritime Truck Owners and all other trucking associations to effectively achieve the reform.