The federal government has taken a major step to curb importers’ N234billion annual loss as a result of the perennial traffic gridlock on the Apapa Port access road.
This, it said, it intends to achieve through the introduction of electronic call-up system for trucks operating at the nation’s seaports.
Before now, the cost of shipping containers into Nigeria had risen by 600 per cent because while shipping companies charge $6,000 to ship a container to Nigeria, it costs shippers in Nigeria $600million (N234billion) every month to transport 100,000 containers to various warehouses from the seaport due to the traffic gridlock.
The gridlock has also led to the blockage of the roads in and around the ports, with millions of containers trapped in the ports and shipping companies staying at anchorages for between three to four months incurring various surcharges.
It was gathered that in the first half of 2020 haulage cost from Tin Can Port to any other part of Lagos rose by more than 1,000 per cent, from about N100, 000 to about N1.2million.
Due to the massive congestion at Tin Can and Apapa ports, many shipping lines have started diverting Nigeria-bound cargoes to neighbouring ports in Cotonou and Ivory Coast.
The situation, experts said, contributes to Nigeria’s galloping inflation as consumers now have to pay more for goods.
However, to end the surcharge on Nigerian bound cargoes as well as the increase in the cost of moving already cleared containers from Tin-Can island ports to warehouses, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) will commence its electronic call-up system as part of federal government’s efforts aimed at finding a permanent solution to the problem of truck congestion around Apapa and its environs.
In a statement made available to LEADERSHIP, the authority announced the commencement of the Electronic Truck call-up system designed for the management of truck movement and access to and from the Lagos Ports Complex and the Tin Can Island Ports, Apapa, Lagos.
According to the acting general manager, corporate and strategic communication, Ibrahim Nasiru, all trucks doing business at the ports will be required to park at the approved truck parks until they are called up into the port through the Eto app.
The statement reads: “The Eto application will be responsible for the scheduling, entry and exit of all trucks into the ports with effect from 27th February 2021.
“Therefore, all transporters, trucks owners and truck drivers will be required to download the Eto App from Google play store before the commencement date to enable them register accordingly.
“In addition to this, cargo owners should please note that empty containers can only be returned to the ports through the approved holding bays of shipping companies using the Eto Platform. It is the responsibility of the shipping company to move empty containers from their holding bay to the Port. All cargo owners have to do is drop their empty containers at the holding bay of the shipping company. The shipping company will then make the necessary bookings on the Eto platform to return empty containers to the Port.”
The authority, however, sought cooperation from truck drivers and owners onstage implementation of the project.
The acting general manager said, “Management of the NPA solicits the cooperation of transporters, truck drivers, and cargo owners, clearing agents shipping companies and all port users in the implementation of the project, which will bring order and sanity to the ports access roads.
“Non-compliance to the use of Eto and its guidelines will result in denial of access into the Ports, impounding of trucks and withdrawal of registration/operating license.”