By Comfort Oseghale
Truck drivers operating at the ports in Lagos have lamented the exorbitant cost at which they procure the call-up cards recently introduced by the Nigerian Navy to ease traffic in Apapa.
The call-up card, which has a validity of 24 hours, is often issued for as high as N20,000, according to the truck drivers who spoke with SHIPS & PORTS DAILY.
A few weeks ago, the Nigerian Navy had announced the use of a call-up card system for trucks loading at Apapa port. The call-up card system allows only trucks that have business inside the port to enter Apapa, while those without the cards were turned back at the foot of the bridge.
While the system is said to have eased traffic in the Apapa area, the process by which the cards are acquired has been described as arduous while its cost is said to be exorbitant.
A truck driver who identified himself as Mukaila Olarenwaju, said, “Getting the card is not easy at all and one has to be connected with some Army or Navy officers to get the card without any problem.
“It is also quite expensive; the agent in charge of the company I work for gets it for N20,000 from the Navy officers.
The card has a 24-hour validity; if it is not used within that period and it is not yet your turn to get into the port, you would have to get another card until you are able to get into the port.”
Another truck driver, Oluwafemi Awosope, who as at the time of this report had been waiting to get into the port for two weeks said, “Every time it is my turn. I am told to do a U-turn because there is no space in the port; this makes the card issued to me invalid. In addition, getting this call-up card is a big problem.
“It should be given to us free but the transport manager of my company said he pays N20,000 to get the card each time he wants it. If you fail to use the card on the day it is issued, it becomes invalid. The government should think up a system that would make it easier for us to get into the port.”
The truck drivers called on the Federal Government to prevail on the Nigerian Navy to cancel the validity period stated on the card. They described the issue of the call-up card validity as another means of making money from truck drivers who go through a lot of hassles to get their loading papers ready.
Some of the truck drivers pleaded with the Federal Government scrap the fee attached to the card.
“The card has really helped the truck drivers and also eased movement on the Apapa/Wharf road. I have not got the card yet and I have spent 20 days on this road. We spend so much to obtain the call-up card and this should not be so. Government has to intervene and come to our aid by making this card free,” Suleimann Abbah, a truck driver said told SHIPS & PORTS DAILY.
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