Senator Idris Umar
Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar, has expressed dismay over the indiscriminate parking of trucks already laden with cargo at the exit gate of Lagos Port Complex (LPC), Apapa.
LPC is home to Nigeria’s busiest and premier port, Apapa Quay, among other terminals. It is also home to Apapa Container Terminal (ACT), which remains African largest container terminal.
Umar, who was in Lagos ports in company of Minister of State, Works, Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Alhaji Habib Abdullahi and Prof. Sylvester Monye, Chairman of Presidential Port Reform Committee on the inspection of port access roads, expressed dissatisfaction over the poor parking of trucks at the gate of the port.
According to the minister, the presence of the trucks had constituted menace to the efforts of government to engender free flow of cargo traffic in and out of the nation's ports.
Umar also took time to query some of the truck drivers and some agents to find out why they chose to park at the gate when they had already been cleared by the Customs.
The drivers and agents blamed Customs officers and officers NPA over the development. They noted that Customs officers at the gate, in their quest to extort money from them, would raise eyebrow on the documentation done by their colleagues in the terminals releasing their consignments.
They added that NPA staff members at the gate would deliberately clamp their trucks while they were settling with the Customs, even as they also pointed out that their licensed customs agents often failed to perfect their documents.
One of the agents, Mr. Precious Oluwagbemiga, said: “NPA is the problem, they chain down our trucks. This impedes free flow of traffic”.
Umar, who had earlier inspected work on the port access road, immediately instructed NPA not to allow such parking around the gate henceforth and ordered the release of the truck chained by NPA.
Monye however pointed out that the NPA had lost control over the gate and terminal operators had taken control, calling on the management of NPA to assert a stronger control on the gate.
On the solution to the traffic control, Minister of State Works said the Wharf Road would have to be expanded in order to create lanes on both sides of the road for trucks only. He noted that for the expansion to be achieved on the road, all perimeter fences beside the road would have to be pulled down so as to claim land for the expansion.
While Umar expressed satisfaction with the port access road, the President of Associated Maritime Trucks Association (AMATO), Chief Remi Odugbemi, told the Minister that lack of holding bay was the major reason why the port roads are littered by trucks.
He noted that the solution to the problem is the provision of holding bay for trucks doing business in the nation’s seaports.