Shippers Council, others to remove touts from ports

Unauthorised persons at the port

The Nigerian Shipper’s Council (NSC), yesterday declared that non-state actors (touts) would be removed from the corridor of the port.

The Executive Secretary, NSC, Emmanuel Jime, said the Council will collaborate with the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), and the Lagos State Task Force Team to achieve this.

He made this known during a meeting with the Council of Maritime Transport Unions and Associations (COMTUA), NSC, NPA and Lagos State Task Force Team in Lagos.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the management of Eto did not attend the meeting.

Jime, who was represented by Director, Consumer Affairs, NSC, Cajetan Agu, noted that removing the touts would reduce extortion on the port corridor.

He said: “We are here today to address issues being raised by COMTUA, which has to do with the Eto call-up system, harassment and extortion being experienced at the port corridor.

“There should be decorum in terms of traffic management because whatever is being experienced by the truckers in terms of cost or otherwise is passed to the importer and thus results in increase in prices of goods.”

As regards the truck call-up system, tagged: Eto, Jime said its purpose is to remove human interface and thereby fight extortion, adding that the agencies involved would sit down and discuss ways to address the issue.

He urged truckers to note that the call-up should be on need basis by terminals, and urged them to “stay in approved parks until called, shun giving bribes, and always call the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority when trucks break down.”

Jime also urged the enforcement teams to be moving around to have a feel of what the truckers are complaining about and to ensure sanity on the port corridor.

There should be decorum in terms of traffic management because whatever is being experienced by the truckers in terms of cost or otherwise is passed to the importer and thus results in increase in prices of goods.

Monitoring bikers

The Principal Manager, NPA, Anda Emmanuel, who represented TinCan Port Manager, disclosed that the Authority had launched bikers that would go round to monitor obstruction and gridlock on the port corridor.

Emmamuel admitted that there were illegal checkpoints, which have been brought to the notice of the Authority for action.

On Eto, he said it was work in progress, adding that the truckers should understand that there was a time belt for everything – empty containers, exports and others.

“Truckers should not try to cheat the system because they will be caught and we will block all leakages and ensure that they come out from garages when called,” he advised.

The National Organising Secretary, Collins Dike, who represented the President of COMTUA, called for synergy between truck terminals releasing trucks and seaport terminals receiving them.

According to Dike, trucks released from Eto spend over three days on the road because seaport terminals are not ready to receive them.

“From Mile 2 to TinCan, there are 18 checkpoints manned by security agents and their cronies and we spend as much as N40,000 to N70,000, which is meant for passing trucks,” he said.

Also, member Board of Trustees of COMTUA, Godwin Ikeji, listed some of their complaints as: high-handedness of the taskforce team, and the use of thugs to extort money and towing moving vehicles.

He noted that the issue of individualising problems, being asked to call a private number when there are issues should be looked into, calling for setting up a good structure to address challenges.

On his part, an Assistant Director, Ministry of Transportation, Olayinka Olawole, urged the truckers to demand for tickets when their vehicles are towed and if vehicles are driven and not towed, they could petition the officer.

According to him, when a vehicle breaks down, if truckers initiate a call in that regard, they will be billed for only towing but if the towing van comes on their own, they will get a ticket plus fine.

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