With the menace of the Apapa traffic gridlock still unyielding to intense pressure, activities at the largely abandoned Calabar, Delta and Rivers’ ports will soon come alive as the Management of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) is bent on breaking the backbone of the embarrassing traffic gridlock.
NPA management has approved a 10 per cent discount on harbour dues at ports in Calabar, the Cross River State capital, Delta State (Warri and Koko), and at those in Onne and Port Harcourt in Rivers State.
The latest move by the NPA is coming as the Federal Government extended by two weeks, the time given the Presidential Taskforce on the traffic gridlock to resolve the matter following a request for an extension by members of the taskforce and other stakeholders.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, approved the extension at a meeting of the task force with stakeholders held at the Presidential Villa, early last week. The task force commenced its assignment on last May 24. It had up to June 7 to complete the task but is now extended to June 24.
The presidential directive was issued for the clearing up of the gridlock and the restoration of law and order to Apapa and its environs within two weeks, following an emergency meeting convened by President Muhammadu Buhari and chaired by Osinbajo last April 25.
While Osinbajo chairs the task force, Kayode Opeifa, runs its daily operations as Executive Vice Chairman. The task force membership is also drawn from the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), NPA and the Nigerian Shippers Council.
Other include a special unit of the Nigeria Police Force led by a Commissioner of Police, the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), representatives of the Truck Transport Union, the Lagos State Government through the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), and other relevant MDAs.
At a meeting on Tuesday Osinbajo said, ‘’we will extend the tenure of the taskforce by two weeks and we must all work together to be able to resolve all the issues raised here today. It will take both medium and long term solutions to ultimately enable us present to the users an efficient port environment for the economy and businesses to thrive. We will not allow any interests to undermine our nation’s economy.’’
He then directed the NPA and other stakeholders to expedite action on the opening of additional truck parks and parking bays around Lagos as well as the commencement of the electronic call-up system at the Port.
Opeifa however, said that despite challenges experienced in the course of the assignment, they were able to record a significant compliance level of the presidential directive on the clearance of the Apapa gridlock.
According to him, efforts are ongoing to open new parking bays for trucks around the port area and in other parts of Lagos, preparatory to the commencement of the electronic call-up system at the port– one of the measures proposed to ameliorate the hardship at the port area.
Meanwhile, the NPA General Manager for Corporate and Strategic Communications, Jatto Adams, in a statement said that the discount was part of efforts to increase patronage of the Eastern ports.
According to him, ‘’the Authority, however, wishes to clarify that this discount will only apply to harbor dues payable by the following types of vessels/cargoes.Container vessels with at least 250 TEUs, General cargo vessels with at least 16,000 tonnes, combo vessels with at least 16,000 tonnes, and RORO vessels with at least 250 units of vehicles.
‘’These discounts shall not apply to vessels coming INBALLAST (empty); vessels calling at private jetties; and vessels calling carrying liquid bulk’’, adding that the application of the discounts will take immediate effect.