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Agents, truckers prepare to check Apapa gridlock, extortions

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Freight forwarders and truckers have formed a synergy to check, coordinate, and control the movement of goods from the seaports to avoid bribery and extortions.

The new mechanism would be implemented by the Committee of Freight Forwarders and Maritime Truck Owners (COFFAMAT).

President of the Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO), Remi Odugbemi, told The Guardian that operators are tired of extortions on the port access roads, and therefore believed that this new mechanism would ease and enhance smooth evacuation of cargoes from the docks.

Odugbemi said extortion and bribery are cankerworms that have eaten deep into the system.

“But some groups of people see the problem as an opportunity, and they are doing this day and night to enrich themselves. Hence, they do not want the problem solved,” he alleged.

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This, he said, impacts negatively on the people through high prices of commodities in the markets, as the cost of clearing is being passed on to the final consumers.

Besides, he noted that the neighbouring countries are competing closely with the Nigerian ports in terms of cost of clearing of goods, therefore snatching some of the cargoes that would have come through the local ports.

He said: “Freight forwarders and truckers have formed a synergy to start checkmating, coordinating and controlling the goods on container trucks day and night, with a view to drastically reducing or totally removing the monster called extortion along ports access roads.

“We have devised a method tagged, Trucks Scheduler System, to regulate the movement of trucks and tankers, by which all the trucks would be made to remain in their private parks until they’re booked and called to come into the transit park, loading points in ports, factories or tank farms, as per the capacity of each points without a spill over.

“This is feasible, it’s achievable, if it would not be regarded as an idea from a ‘minor importance’,” he said.

Ogungbemi expressed fears that, “those that are benefiting from the chaos would not support this idea, as it would expose their antics, tricks and greed. They are working against it already. They don’t want transparency,” he said.

The National Coordinator, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) 100% Compliance Team, Ibrahim Tanko, said the traffic congestion on Apapa and port access roads has become a horrible dimension.

He said: “Enough is enough. We can no longer accept it. We own the cargo, while the transporters own the truck. I see no reason why somebody will come and extort money from us.

“We have written letters to the Governor of Lagos State. We have written to the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, and we have also written to the Task Team.”

Tanko therefore warned that henceforth shipping companies should provide holding bays for their empty containers, as no compliance would any longer be acceptable to them.

He said his Team and Truck Owners, supported by the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents(ANLCA), Council of Managing Directors, Association of Registered Freight Forwarders in Nigeria (AREFF), among others, decided to come together to fight this common course with each of the association to lead on rotational basis.

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