Stakeholders in the Nigeria port system on Monday brainstormed on the incessant Apapa gridlock with a resolution that the Nigerian Ports Authority should be supported in its drive to make the e-call up system at the port work.
The occasion was the webinar on the Apapa e-call up system which was addressed by the acting Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello-Koko; the President of Abuja Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), Dr Al-Mujtaba Abubakar; the Executive Director of African International Trade and Commerce Research, Mr. Sand Kalu Mba; Port operators, importers and exporters.
The well attended webinar which had major presentations on the e-call up system by Mr. Bello and a presentation on the assessment study on the e-call up system by Mr. Mba, witnessed commendations for efforts of the new NPA management to rejig the implementation of the e-call up system.
The NPA acting MD in his presentation at the Webinar titled; “Apapa Gridlock: Accelerating Implementation of E-call Up Policy” organized by Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), said the traffic Management along the access roads to the Ports in Lagos has been a major challenge to the Nigerian Ports Authority.
He said the inadequate physical infrastructure (truck parks) has been identified as a major constraint in the implementation of the e-call up system and to nip this challenge in the bud, the NPA has mandated all shipping companies involved in container operations to establish empty container holding bays.
“The e-call up system is hinged on three components namely; Physical Infrastructure, Information Technology and Stakeholders collaboration. There are also hindrances to accelerating the implementation such as; the e-call up system like any other novel project has its teething problems and the problems faced daily by truckers requires the intervention of Lagos State Government, Messrs. Truck Transit Park Limited and Nigerian Ports Authority.”
Earlier, the President ACCI, Dr. Abubakar in his opening remark said, the Apapa Port is an integral part of, and a strategic gateway to Nigerian economy but unfortunately, it has been bedevilled with continued occurrence of gridlock.
“As a Chamber, we suggest and encourage a sustained and expanded collaboration between the Port Authority and the Lagos state government to dismantle the forces behind the incessant gridlock at the Apapa port. There is a need for the government to introduce sanctions in the enforcement process. Multiple agencies operating at the port also need to harmonize their operations to reduce the current hardship in the clearance of goods at ports.”
He said the gridlock for the past six or so years have disrupted so many businesses and worsened Nigeria’s rating on Ease of Doing Business (EDB), adding that ACCI had in early 2018 hosted a roundtable on the traffic situation at the Lagos port.
He added that, “The well attended event came up with several solutions among which were proposals for an e-call up system to manage the trucking system at Apapa. We were glad that the management of NPA eventually introduced the digital system among other new ideas to ease traffic flow at the port. However, the implementation of the e-call up system has not gone as smoothly as envisaged.
“Consequently, ACCI launched a survey study on experiences of users and stakeholders with the e-call up system. A synopsis of the report will be presented to the NPA management at this webinar, while the full report of the study will be presented to the NPA managing Director in Lagos at a later date.”
Dr. Abubakar who commended the efforts of the Federal Government to extend rail connections to the port as a major step toward achieving inter-modality within the national transport network, also said it will improve the movement of containerized goods while noting the current efforts to complete the Lekki Deep Sea Port under a public private partnership.
The Director General ACCI, Victoria Akai who appreciated every participant at the webinar also lauded the Ag. MD, NPA for his willingness to collaborate with the organised private sector through advocacy avenues like this to discuss moving port operations forward even in these critical times.
“Indeed, the government and the private sector are partners in progress. Thank you for making exports a priority, this is indeed important for the diversification efforts to improve our GDP and further create wealth for our people by taking advantage of international trade opportunities. The ultimate desire is to have more functional and efficient ports operations.”
She appreciated the Chamber’s President Dr. Al-Mujtaba Abubakar for the relentless efforts in advocating for favourable policies and initiatives for the general benefits of the private sector in Nigeria.
The DG also appreciated Mr. Sand for connecting the consequences of operations at the ports to the real time effects on lives and families, adding that, “this is a fundamental point, as we carry out our daily activities and make policies.”