Apapa Gridlock: NPA, Navy Ban Return of Empty Containers to Seaports

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Eromosele Abiodun

In a bid to permanently resolve the Apapa gridlock, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Nigerian Navy have adopted two-prong measures, one of which is the ban on return of empty containers to the nation’s seaports after being cleared.

This is just as the Nigerian Navy has introduced a card call up system for trucks; a move it said will bring orderliness to the area.

In separate news briefings, the Traffic Manager, Lagos Ports Complex, Mr. Victor Oginni told journalists at the end of a tour of the ports’ access roads that NPA management has henceforth, banned agents from returning empty containers to the nation’s seaports after being cleared.

Rather, he stressed that the empty containers will henceforth be delivered directly to each shipping company’s holding bay, outside the ports.

“This directive, which is to enable the NPA and other stakeholders effectively manage the traffic situation around Apapa area of Lagos, has also transferred the responsibility of managing the empty containers to the shipping companies.
“With this directive, shipping companies are expected to have holding bays where their empty containers could be kept while waiting to be taken into the terminals”, Oginni explained, stressing that this will certainly eliminate the gridlock being presently witnessed in Apapa.

He added: “Many of the shipping companies have no holding bays outside the seaports; and they may have to make use of rented holding bays to put their containers. With this directive, shipping companies must keep their empty containers in their holding bays outside the port location, pending the time for vessel loading. The era of free money for shipping companies is gone. Agents will no longer have to forfeit their money to shipping companies as they will return empties in due time. This is what shipping companies are avoiding.”
Ogini also confirmed that there was an existing relationship between the port and the Nigerian Navy.

“We have been enjoying this collaboration from the Navy, Police, LASTMA and the truck owners. These are the people, who have been collaborating with us and the result is what we are seeing,’’ he said.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Navy in furtherance of the same objectives has introduced a call up card system for trucks that have business to do at the ports.

The Commanding Officer, Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) BEECROFT, Commodore Okon Eyo, disclosed this to journalists at a news conference at the Naval Base in Apapa, Lagos.
He said that the call up card system only allows trucks that have business inside the ports, while those without call up cards would be turned back at the foot of the bridge.

Specifically, he said: “What we have done was to design call up card. Every morning, we ask them to bring the particulars of the trucks and we endorse the cards and give it to them. This will distinguish them from those who are not supposed to move, who should wait for normal clearance to proceed.

“This card will be given back to them and this means that we have processed trucks to continue. This card has worked perfectly well with the tankers and with this; they have been able to conduct their businesses well.”

“The commander also said that the NPA had also played a major role in easing the traffic situation around that area. We had a meeting and we were able to brainstorm and they have to do more supervision and we all agreed to step up our game, “he added.

The Commander also said that the shipping agencies should have a holding bay, adding that this also was a way of easing traffic on that axis.

He said that a Standard Operating Procedure was also introduced after much deliberation for all port users, which would help to ease up the traffic situation.

The commander also noted that there were other security agencies that were now working together to tackle this menace.