No fewer than 9,258 trucks have passed the minimum standards test of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and have been certified to participate in moving goods in and out of the seaports in Lagos.
The ports are the Lagos Port Complex Apapa and the Tin Can Island Port Complex.
General Manager, NPA Western Ports, Chief Michael Ajayi disclosed this exclusively to SHIPS & PORTS DAILY during an interview in his office in Apapa, Lagos.
He said NPA had commenced full implementation of the minimum standards for trucks involved in port operation “the moment it was flagged off by the NPA Managing Director Mallam Habib Abdullahi in April”.
“The compliance level is high even exceeding our expectation. As at today about 9,258 trucks have registered and certified,” Ajayi said.
He said NPA officials faced series of challenges from a section of the trucking community which did not want to comply with the minimum standards rule.
“We had huge challenges. In fact we were threatened by the coalition of truck owners. You know as a run down to the enforcement, a new body emerged called Coalition of Truck Owners and the coalition was formed as a resistant group to resist the implementation of the minimum standard and they threatened publicly both on television and radio to shut down the port and shutting down the port is a criminal offence in the first instance.
“You close down the port; you close down the economy of the nation. It is an act of sabotage, it is even treasonable but they didn’t understand the implication of shutting the port.
“So we worked with our leadership in headquarters, we worked with the police; with the intelligence community to ensure that we succeed. So they threatened to close the port and we were determined that the port would not be closed for even a second and that we succeeded in doing.
“The objective of enforcing the minimum standards is to ensure public safety. That is the directive of the Managing Director that the rickety trucks posing threat to public safety should be taken off the streets or prevented from entering the port.
“It is also to ensure that as they make profit they should also plough back some to make their vehicles roadworthy. It is unfortunate that they have trucks that is fetching them money and no dime is invested to ensure their vehicles are roadworthy.
“The tires will be bad, no jack, headlamp, even the windshield will not be there, no trafficator lights, the hooks will not be there, and they still carry containers and be speeding on the road.
“You remember the Ojuelegba incident where a container fell on innocent Nigerians going home after the close of work of the day and they died. This moved everybody, including the management of NPA and the Lagos State government. In all the meetings we held, they were asking us why did you allow this kind of vehicles enter the port. So they felt that if we can stop them from coming into the port, then public roads will be safe or safer than it was then, so we took it as a challenge,” he said.
Ajayi said going forward, trucks that do not carry NPA stickers and that have not been certified fit would not be allowed into the port.
“If we find out that you are rickety, we will not allow you enter the port even if you are carrying our sticker and we will investigate you to know how you came across our sticker in the first instance,” he said.
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