Maritime stakeholders have intensified calls on the urgent need for the federal government to relocate tank farms within the port areas and resuscitate the railway system to address the perennial traffic gridlock on the port access road.
The stakeholders, who made the call at a one day national dialogue session on “Unlocking Shipping Gridlock at the Ports: Stakeholders Initiative” organised by the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), also recommended the creation of holding bay for trucks and improved physical infrastructure to reduce time of cargo clearance at the ports.
Speaking at the event, General Manager, Western Port of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Miss Adenike Sonaike said that the creation of a single window platform will reduce the number of persons accessing the ports and increase the time frame for work.
“You find a very large number of people around the port, what are they doing there? Go to port overseas, you hardly find human beings what you find are machines. If we have a single window platform you can be in your house even at night and still be transacting,” she stated.
Represented by the Assistant General Manager, Commercial Services of Western Ports, Barrister Effiota Ephraim, Sonaike identified the poor state of the access road as one major challenge that must be addressed to ease free flow of goods in and out of the port.
She said that the poor state of trucks plying the port and the unethical attitude of the truck drivers who indiscriminately park on the port access roads to look for business contribute to traffic gridlock.
“Sometimes it is only when some of these truck drivers are exiting the port that they will remember they have to buy diesel and in the process of doing that they slow down movement along the port roads. Sometimes, the drivers have their differences with the agents when the truck is exiting the port and documentation has not been completed or the driver has not been paid fully he will just park the truck along the access the road,” she said.
Assistant Director, Trade Services of Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Moses Oyebola, who represented the Council’s Executive Secretary/CEO, said activities of all stakeholders including customs, freight forwarders and the shipping companies have all contributed to the traffic gridlock situation at the port.
He said failure of some stakeholders to respect the rules of engagement and adopt electronic transaction of cargo clearance has contributed to the delay in exiting of cargoes from the port.
“Some of the stakeholders involved in cargo clearance are not computer literate the human factor element and how can somebody not know how to use computer and you say you are an international trader in this age? There are some places in the world where you can send your declarations from your smart phone and you don’t have to be in the port. Shipping is global so we must align with global best practices,” he said.
On his part, Deputy President of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Ugo Nnadi, blamed corruption and high illiteracy level among customs officers as one of the major causes of delay in prompt clearance of goods at the port.
Also speaking, Chairman Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO) Chief Remi Ogungbemi said a lasting solution to the traffic gridlock is the creation of a modern truck terminal where trucks can be called when needed.
Other speakers at the event also pointed out the need to educate and re-orientate truck drivers and the creation of a special monitoring agency that will oversee the activities of other regulatory agency in the ports to address the perennial traffic gridlock on the port access road.
The session was chaired by the representative of the National President of NACCIMA, Alhaji Ahmad Rabiu, who said all recommendations will be forwarded to the Federal executive Council for prompt action.