…Prompting stakeholders review of Ports’ Roads inefficiency, fuelling inflation!***
A tanker, loaded with inflammable product ran into a giant pothole on Friday at the Lagos Mile 2, and fell on its side, throwing dangerous content on the road, creating instant fears and paralyzing road movements in the significant area.
If the Federal Ministry of Works’ ineptitude and indifference was anything to go by, another accident could still occur there soon, even as investigation begins, to ascertain that a recent accident few buses stops from Mile 2, during which a container fell on a commercial bus, killing two persons and injuring three others, a few days earlier, was not similarly caused by unavoidable potholes, between the Mile 2 and Oshodi Expressway.
But the Friday early morning accident at Mile 2, has merely refreshed the stakeholders’ memory, in terms of what the Nigerian stakeholders, shippers, and the business class must go through if they must continue in business.
In a more decent society, insurers and underwriters should be a reliable consolation, but experience has taught the shippers to rely more on prayers, following several instances of those who had used legal terms, grammar and nondescript terms and conditions, most of which were written in non-decipherable fonts, until the aggrieved shippers came for claim settlement.
Following Friday’s accident and other grievances, the tankers drivers have served a notice of service withdrawal by Monday, not only to called attention to the road but also to protest what they see as Government agencies’ high handedness, in impounding some of their articulated vehicles.
Investigation by the Maritime First showed that while they were protesting that container- laden trucks’ movement was hindering their products-lifting operations at Apapa, some security agents went on to impound one or two of their vehicles.
Also Read: NNPC, partners resolve OML 130 dispute
Investigation by the Maritime First showed that their tankers were not being arrested or impounded before. The tanker drivers were treated with kid’s gloves. They were also told to refrain from certain level of recklessness. It was confirmed, that one of their articulated vehicles was just impounded because some level of recklessness could not be condoned.
Shippers are dissatisfied. But they could not complain. In return, they pass their frustrations, as well as extortion to the common man, the ultimate consumers, who continue to publicly lament dwindling, purchasing power of the Naira, before an intimidating, worsening inflation.
The tankers drivers are sad; and to call attention to their grievances, have threatened to withdraw services by Monday.
Now, who would the Common man, the poor masses complain to? Is anyone truly happy today in Lagos with the State of roads?
An informed stakeholder who spoke with the Maritime First advised that the tanker drivers should be allowed to go on strike, because it would at least, enable freer movement for the containers.
“They are complaining about the disturbances of the containers. They have forgotten that they are currently on the containers’ lane and parking space.
“They have also forgotten that the Lagos bridge and Marine Beach bridge are currently closed”, he stated, stressing that NPA was also not helping matters.
Speaking further, the importer highlighted that till date, the NPA had woefully failed to install the Electronic Call-up system machines it pledged to install.
“Some people in the Nigerian Ports Authority are part of the problems. Do you know how important and strategic the Electronic call-up is to the effectiveness of the entire system’s success? The NPA pledged to ensure that it would begin to work, not just installed, by August 1st. What is today’s date…? If you go there and ask them now, they will tell you that COVID 19 stopped them, from installing it!”, the shipper stated further
Investigation by Maritime First further revealed that coordination amongst Government security agencies and parastatals has also weakened.
Perhaps, they see things differently. Perhaps the old rivalry was beginning to resurface again. But one thing that was noticed was the prominence of more export vehicles swooping now on the Apapa Port road, to queue, unending and constitute a new line of bottlenecks, from the Eleganza Complex, through Point Road/ Barracks facade and continue unending towards Ijora by the Bridge.
An industry watcher said it could no longer be confirmed if the NPA was still using the usual ‘Nominated Pass again, or not.
The NPA recognizes the importance of export goods, particularly the need to get them, as quickly as possible, into the ports! But, how can you call two hundred trucks for export, and authorize them to come and off-load at the port, at the same time? How will you arrange them, especially when they are coming from different destinations?”, the industry watcher further observed, stressing that even some Government people don’t understand how some of the logistics works.
“NPA cannot say it recognizes the full importance of Nominated Pass and its efficiency on cargo movement and still be authorizing trucks to move in from their various states, at about the same. This is about simple logistics. The ability of the export goods vehicles entering the ports is a function of the degree of ports’ efficiency. Now, if you authorize more than what the ports can accommodate, there would be a spillover; and those outside would constitute a clog, for other trucks, also officially endorse to be in the ports too. Before you know it, you have created another gridlock!”, he explained further, speaking on conditions of anonymity.
Another respondent, Tony Omengboji cautioned that one investigation may not exhaustively identify the problems, except special attention is paid on Corruption, often created by human element.
“To understand the issues of ports’ ineffectiveness, you must begin from human element. Do you know how many private Container parks were approved to support the Lily Pond and the Tin Can Holden bay? Now, have you asked why most of them are no longer allowed to support the Government’s designated ones?
“Are you aware that some people are now campaigning that Ogun and Lagos States should develop container parks, miles away from the ports? Have you either asked why or establish the reasons for the campaign?
“Are you aware that some major stakeholders, like the Lagos State Government, NPA, Shippers Council are not fully playing their roles?
“Or, have you asked why COVID 19 may not allow the NPA install its Electronic Call up equipment, until 2021…?” he further asked, adding, “when you know all these, you may begin to understand why some people believe that ‘ports business is like Mafia business’!
As the crew of the Maritime First thanked him, for his incisive questions, it became gradually clearer, that while Government may not eliminate gridlock overnight, the beginning of ending the current unending, container-related accidents, may start from begging the Federal Ministry of Works, to truly patch the roads, even if they can’t do a genuinely honourable job there!