As the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) electronic call- up system designed for the management of truck movement in and out of the ports officially takes-off today, truck drivers are yet to comply with the directive that all articulated vehicles parked along access roads to the ports should vacate the area.
The NPA, Lagos State government and the Port Authority Police Command had on Thursday jointly agreed that by 4pm yesterday, all articulated vehicles will be prevented from entering Apapa and its environs and subsequently by noon today, trucks in and around the port access roads are all expected to vacate the corridors with strong warning to truck drivers and owners to adhere to the resolutions.
The electronic call-up system is part of NPA’s efforts to find a permanent solution to the problem of truck congestion around Apapa ports and its environs. Under the arrangement, all trucks doing business at the port are required to park at the eight approved truck parks until they are called up into the port through an app named eto.
SHIPS & PORTS gathered that the eight parks are located at Ojota, Obanikoro, Oregun, Olowotedo Ibafo, Amuwo-Odofin, Orile-Iganmu and Okorisan Lekki Epe. The parks jointly have capacity to accommodate 3,000 trucks.
The Managing Director of NPA, Hadiza Bala- Usman, had said that the introduction of the e-call up system would eliminate human intervention and extortion by security officials.
However, in what looks like a total defiance to the directive, most of the articulated vehicles still occupied major roads to the Apapa and Tin Can Island ports.
The worst hit areas were the Ijora and Coconut axis along Apapa port and Tin Can Island port respectively, as some of the trucks were still parked indiscriminately on the road while those that were cut up on the road at the expiration of the manual truck call-up on Friday where seen filed on a single lane from Ijora bridge to front of Eleganza Plaza on Wharf Road in Apapa.
When SHIPS & PORTS visited Apapa around 5pm on Friday, officials of Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), NPA security unit and port police were seen controlling the traffic along the Ijora area but they appeared overwhelmed by the large numbers of trucks on the road as they tried to bar other trucks from ascending the Ijora bridge. There was however, a bit of sanity around the Lilypond area as most of the trucks along the axis have been evacuated.
Some of truck drivers that spoke with SHIPS & PORTS expressed divergent views on the new system.
Abdullahi Muhammed, a container truck driver who regularly plies the Lagos ports said he was not aware of the Eto App, calling on NPA to prioritise repairs of the port access roads.
He said, “I don’t know what the Eto App is all about because my boss did not tell me about it and I have not heard about it from other truck drivers. NPA did not make awareness on it.
“I know the authority is trying to find a way to ease gridlock because it is causing a lot of havoc on the road but I think the fixing of the road should be the main focus by the government and not wasting money on building an app which will eventually be mismanaged by some cabals of people who will siphon the revenue gotten from it.”
Another the truck driver, Daniel Moses said, “I hope the Eto App will be fast to avoid unpleasant issues from security agencies embarrassing us on the road and extorting us. Since it involves the use of technology, it should be made fast and accessible for some illiterate among us.
“I would also urge the government to make sure the application is updated frequently in order not to put the truckers on hold thereby delaying them unnecessarily at the park.” Another truck driver, Samuel Udoku said, “It is a good development only if it can be monitored properly by the authority in charge. We know the way this online thing works; someone has to be monitoring it 24 hours to avoid disruptions like network problem.
“I hope this implementation will give us the outcome the government want and also I believe it will make security agencies stop extorting us.”