Port terminals at the Apapa and Tin- Can ports are experiencing cargo congestion as truck drivers operating at the Nigerian seaports have stopped lifting cargoes since Friday.
LEADERSHIP had last week Friday reported the imminent congestion over strike action embarked upon by truck drivers. The drivers had alleged that they decided to down tool as a result of brutality and extortion of security personnel managing the traffic system.
Container terminals at the western port include the APM Terminals Apapa, Tin Can Island Container Terminal (TICT), Port and Cargo Handling Services and Five Star Logistics.
While an average of 700 containers are removed daily at APM Terminals, an average of 500 containers are moved at TICT, Port and Cargo and Five Star, then about 6600 containers of perishable and non-perishable cargoes are presently trapped at the port in the last three days.
But, a source at one of the container handling terminal had confirmed to LEADERSHIP yesterday that the truck drivers have all down tools and refused to lift consignments.
He said the truck drivers had also been stopped from using the Ijora Bridge by the officers of the Nigerian navy.
“The truckers have all down tool since Saturday, not one truck have moved cargoes out of the port. The truckers are also calling on the Nigerian navy to stop the call-up system in use because of the high level extortion and brutality,” he said.
Speaking to LEADERSHIP, the national publicity secretary of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Joe Sanni, confirmed the strike embarked upon by truck drivers.
He said the strike has affected their clients as lots of cargo – laden containers were trapped at the seaport.
Spokesman of the Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STAON), Mr Bolaji Akinola, blamed the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) for the problem.
He said the decision by the NPA to stop containers that did not originate from holding bays from going into the port led to the crisis.
“The issue is that we had over 1000 containers that were leaving the port everyday but the NPA introduced a system that got the trucks stocked. Between March and May this year when the Nigerian navy was managing traffic, they brought sanity to the system. However, NPA last month said they were responsible for managing Apapa traffic and they came up with this system.
“As I speak to you, the port is filled up. There is massive congestion and terminal operators have lost $10 million since this crisis started. This is exclusive of revenue loss by the federal government and other stakeholders. “The NPA should discard this system because even without the strike there is congestion at the ports. The problem of the port is bad roads and the lack of truck park. Government knows the problem, they should address it. They NPA should allow the Navy to manage the traffic, “he said.
Government officials of Nigerian navy, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA ), and Lagos State Transport Management Authority (LASTMA), who are managing the traffic gridlock through a call up card system have been accused of massive extortion of hapless truck drivers.
The traffic management system which was being coordinated by the Nigerian navy through a call up card system that was introduced in March 22, 2018, to stem the perennial traffic lock down at Apapa port, has been a huge success since its introduction as it has restored sanity to Apapa port access road.
However, the system is currently enmeshed in controversy as the officials of the three government agencies charged to drive the system were said to have turned the noble effort otherwise.
Truck owners, truck drivers and customs brokers have unanimously accused these officials of subjecting truck drivers to horrendous objects of money-making machine through what they called bared-faced and unabashed extortion.
Ibrahim Tanko, the vice-president, Seaport (Western Zone) of National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) accused the naval officials in the traffic management system of collecting N70, 000 on 40- footer container, while N40, 000 is being collected on 20-footer container.
“The naval officers collude with the NPA officials to collect this unreceipted money from truck drivers before they could be issued call up card to access the port,” he said.
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