The Lagos State Government has accused Hitech Construction Company, the contractor handling the Mile 2/Tin Can Island Port road along the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway of deliberately frustrating the electronic call up system recently introduced by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) for movement of trucks in and out of the ports.
It also accused the Nigeria Customs Service of mounting checkpoints on the road thereby creating avoidable gridlock.
This came as truck drivers alleged that some individuals working in connivance with the contractors along the Tin Can axis still demand money from them before they are allowed access into the port despite having the e-call up slip.
Speaking in a chat with SHIPS & PORTS on Friday, Chairman of the Lagos State Task Team on Apapa Gridlock, Toyin Fayinka said while the State Government does not have control over the road construction, its efforts to ease gridlock in the axis following the introduction of the Eto app had not been successful due to the activities of the contractors and the slow pace of work on the road.
He said, “Lagos State Government don’t have control over the road construction, however, we have told the contractor handling it several times that they are not helping the course of Lagos State as far as the congestion is concern.
“We have had meetings with the representative of the contractor alongside with NPA management severally but to me, it looks as if they are deliberately doing it.
“In the morning and afternoon, the roads will be closed but at night, some workers of this construction company will open the road for some truckers to go, meaning that there is sharp practice being perpetrated by some people.
“They told us last week that everything will be okay but up till now, they have not finished it. It is really a worrisome situation because it is not helping us.”
Fayinka also decried the activities of petroleum tanker drivers along the Mile 2/Tin Can axis, as he noted that the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers Union of Nigeria (NUPENG) is yet to key into the e-call up system.
“The activity of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers Union of Nigeria (NUPENG) along that axis is also problematic. You will see tankers from Sunrise queuing up and trying to enter MRS terminal at the Tin Can Port for days because they have not keyed into the Eto platform and it is a must for all trucks and tankers that want to enter the port.
“I spoke to the Chairman of NUPENG and he said they will see to the issue but the excuse they gave was that NUPENG did not know about the Eto arrangement and when I asked NPA they said they told MRS but NUPENG said MRS did not tell them anything.
“It is MRS that ought to have uploaded all the tankers that come to them so that everything will be seamless. That is where we are at the moment. At least let the tankers go into recognised terminals so that they could sort out themselves. We don’t want to be seen victimising anyone but if they refuse to do the needful, we may have nothing to do than to tow all their tankers on the roads.
“Iyana Isolo down to Mile 2 is okay now but Otto wharf, Sunrise, First and Second Gate is becoming problematic largely because of the activities of these petroleum tankers but we are not relenting.
“We have also received compliant about Customs officers intercepting containers along that axis. Why are they frustrating this arrangement? The Customs is supposed to be inside the port to clear goods and if the agents have not complied with any of their requirements, they should not release the goods not that they will be chasing them on the road thereby causing gridlock we are trying to avoid,” he said.