President of the Shippers Association Lagos State (SALS), Jonathan Nicol, has urged the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to simplify the call-up system of returning overtime containers into the ports.
The call came as the President of Senior Staff Association of Statutory Corporations and Government Owned Companies, Adamu Ya’u, was busy lobbying the Federal Government to empower the NPA to expand infrastructure at the country’s harbours.
Ya’u who said the concession of Apapa and Tin-Can Island ports had stripped NPA of powers to enforce certain rules to develop the ports, added, ‘’for instance, terminal operators after the concessioning, carved its own demarcation.
‘’It is the responsibility of the ports authority to do that. With the type of fencing and demarcation one sees at Apapa and Tin- Can ports, if the authority says it wants to carry out an expansion, how would it carry it out?’’
While explaining that before the concessioning, there were rail lines in the ports. Containers were evacuated through rail from Lagos to Kaduna and Kano Inland Container Terminals, he said, ‘’unfortunately after the concessioning there were no traces of the rail lines in the ports any more, they were removed.’’
Ya’u urged the government to give the executive management of NPA the power to expand port infrastructure, pointing out that Boundary and Ajegunle areas in Lagos should be relocated to enable government achieve the port’s reforms that would meet international standards.
On the gridlock on Apapa road, Ya’u alleged that the presidential taskforce had turned the perennial gridlock to a commercial venture.
‘’A truck that should enter the port within an hour, will take seven to 10 days to enter the port; in fact, you have to pay heavily before entering the ports. When you stay at the waterfront within Tin-Can and Apapa ports, you will see naval officers piloting trucks into the ports. The traffic is not inside the port but from outside the port.
Ya’u argued ‘’if a professional is given opportunity to clear the port access road, it will be done’’, adding that NPA had started the dredging of Warri and Calabar ports, saying that cargo clearing activities are ongoing at Warri port.
Meanwhile, he has urged shippers to make use of the available facility to reduce cost of doing business. But Nicol made the appeal in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos on Tuesday, alleged that some transporters in Lagos paid between N20,000 and N30,000 for 1 × 20ft container in an off dock terminal and between N40,000 and N45,000 for 1× 40ft container.
‘’Forty five thousand naira is too much to offload an empty container and this is the reason why those truck drivers cannot afford to pay and they prefer to remain on the streets. We want NPA to look into the issue of huge payment being charged by operators of the holding bays.
‘’We want all the payment issues to be streamlined properly; not just the money but the service that normally goes with the payment. Empty containers that should be off-loaded are supposed to be free because the shipping lines are taking them back’’, Nicol said.
While claiming that trucks are not warehouse where empty container should be kept, Nicol said that it was the duty of the Shipping lines to collect their empty containers after off loading the goods from the containers.
He however, said that most of the empty containers should be off-loaded in the night to reduce the gridlock on ports access roads in Lagos.