Maritime stakeholders comprising freight forwarders and truck operators have described the current unprecedented Apapa gridlock and its attendant hike in cost of haulage as “complete system collapse”.
Speaking at a stakeholders meeting organized in Apapa on Wednesday by the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), the stakeholders lamented the high cost of moving goods from Apapa ports to the owners warehouses within and outside Lagos which they said have tripled.
According to the National Publicity Secretary of NAGAFF, Forwarder Stanley Ezenga who spoke exclusively to Platform Reporters, “the cost of moving a 40 feet Container from Apapa Port to Alaba International market in Ojo area of Lagos was initially #150,000. But it’s currently #650,000. Whereas the cost of moving 40 feet container from Apapa Port to the Eastern Nigeria was initially #350,000, but its now moved at the cost of #1,100,000”.
Also Speaking, Dr ANIEBONAM said the situation at the port sector is a matter of system collapse.
He revealed that when the Governing Council of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarders (CRFFN) is inaugurated, it would champion some of the challenges affecting freight forwarders and the haulage companies.
In his own, Mr Ray UGOCHUKWU, a Maritime Journalist, said the critical stakeholders should harmonize their position, give government ultimatum by organizing a protest.
He assured that maritime journalists would join in the protest because the media are equally affected having lost a member and still have one seriously injured in the hospital as a result of the bad road.
Earlier in his opening remarks,the NAGAFF Chairman of Transportation Hike Committee, Mr Ugochukwu Nnamdi said the purpose of the stakeholders forum was to discuss issues of the Apapa Gridlock with its attendant Hike in Transportation cost with a view to suggesting ways out of the quagmire.
He suggested that the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) should dedicate one lane for trucks and and another lane foe other motorists, and also panelise offenders with #200,000 as fine.
He Also urged truck drivers to give way for private cars in order to ensure free movement of other road users in and out of the port facilities..
Speaking further, the Committee Chairman revealed that the Concessionaires of KLT 1 has agreed to use the terminal as holding bay if relevant authorities meet and discuss with them.
He pleaded with NPA to mount CCTV on the Apapa roads to monitor vehicular movements. Even as he alleged that the NPA security officials at checkpoints are collecting bribes from truckers. And also pleaded that demurrage charges during strike periods should be abolished
On his own, Chief Godwin Ikeji, Sec Gen of Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN), Haulage Section. Said the gridlock is caused by a conspiracy between the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC).
He condemned the concurrent repair of Ijora bridge by the Federal Ministry of Works while the Wharf Road is also undergoing reconstruction, saying it is unfair to port users.
According to him, “Conspiracy of security agencies is also a cause as security agents now make returns to their ogas for controlling traffic”.
Chief Ikeji maintained that the system has failed the operators and what is needed was a crashed program. He suggested that a functional holding bay is the solution not just a parking space for trucks.
Also speaking, Mr S.O Keshiro, Trustee of RTEAN said the idea of fining trucks #200,000 or #500,000 for offences would not work because such laws doesn’t exist.
On his own, the Chairman of Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO), Chief Remi Ogungbemi suggested that the various barracks in the City of Lagos can be merged and their barracks used as holding bays.
He said its an aberration for a soldier with gun to be on road controlling traffic
On his own, Mr Frank Ukor pleaded that other members of the affected associations should be included in the committee to make it all inclusive so as to get a better result.
After all discussions, the committee agreed to issue a communique regarding the situation.