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NPA electronic call-up system to decongest ports

By Sulaimon Salau
23 December 2020   |   3:04 am
Come January 2021, the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) will float the electronic version of its call-up system, which is expected to clear the protracted traffic around Apapa ports

Managing Director, NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman

Come January 2021, the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) will float the electronic version of its call-up system, which is expected to clear the protracted traffic around Apapa ports and decongest the terminals of bulk cargoes.

The year was turbulent for importers, exporters, clearing agents, and port operators as port access roads, which made entry and exit from the seaports became a herculean task.

This unfortunate situation had led to a loss of cargoes and threatened the survival of businesses around the seaports.

When the Managing Director, NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman announced the new development, stakeholders breathed the fresh air of hope that the electronic call-up system will be brought to shipping activities in Nigerian ports.

The NPA boss said plans were in top gear to unveil an electronic call-up system in January 2021.

She said: “The bad roads make truck drivers hang around the ports lobbying for cargo lifting. So, we must have e-call up where the trucks parks are linked to the port locations, so that each truck can only start going to the port if it is called upon. That is what we need to do and we have concluded on that system,”

She, however, added that the authority was working with the Lagos State government to create truck parks at designated areas in a bid to further tackle protracted traffic on port access roads.

“Lagos State government plans to give a designated truck park at Orile, where trucks will park until their cargo is cleared electronically before they can proceed to the port. We will provide an electronic call-up system within the ports and designation truck parks. Trucks will no more be parked randomly on the road. We are going to have a designated park and when you are called upon, you can enter the port. The e-call up will also remove human intervention and eliminate corrupt practices,” Usman said.

The scheme, which would be financed by a private company, Trucks Transit Parks Limited under a public-private partnership (PPP) arrangement with the NPA is expected to cost about N7 billion to deploy.

When fully operational, the electronic call-up system will save Nigeria a whooping N140 billion weekly economic loss and another $10 billion yearly loss of agro products.

A source at NPA said, “The company presented a business case for regulated truck traffic regime, which shows that the system will save the country N140 billion weekly economic loss, 40 per cent of businesses that have left Apapa, will return and there will be an end to 7-14 days cargo reception delay; consequent damage to perishable export products and reverse the $10 billion annual loss of agro products.

“That is not all, this effort will also save our bridges around Lagos mainland, which are old and fragile and can no longer support abuse by trucks. This will also put an end to unavailability of public funding for shared common infrastructure.”

The Managing Director of Trucks Transit Parks Limited (TTP), Jama Onwubuariri, said the electronic call-up system would transform Apapa and bring the port city alive again.

He said: “Our company has partnered with NPA to provide solutions to the truck traffic challenges in Nigeria. TTP aims to decongest Apapa, improve traffic flow, and ultimately facilitate the efficiency and productivity of the ports. TTP will do this through the use of technology.

“Our operation is based on an electronic call-up system called Ètò, through which trucks’ movements will be scheduled from the originating points of the trucks to a park, then to a holding bay/pre-gate, and then programmed in batches (on a first-come-first-served basis) to access the ports. Thus, all trucks are expected to remain within approved parks until they are scheduled to access the ports or are moving from one park to another. The idea is to prohibit illegal or indiscriminate parking of trucks along the roads.

“Therefore, law enforcement agents have been set up to enforce compliance and tow or fine offending trucks/truckers. Hence, an electronic call-up system that will drive the check-in and checkout of trucks from each location has been put in place to achieve this. In addition to batching and scheduling of trucks movement, TTP would also offer add-on or ancillary services such as truck wash, tyre change, truck service and accommodation at designated parks.”

He added that the main objectives of the company’s operations are to improve ports efficiency, decongesting traffic gridlock, improving traffic flow within Apapa logistics ring, improve accountability and eliminate extortion and improve ease of doing business.

On how it intends to achieve it, he said, “We will deploy electronic truck scheduling, park, truck and traffic management platform called Ètò, provide modern truck parks and holding bay facilities with hub amenities, use of ICT hardware such as access control, law enforcement/traffic agents to enforce compliance and registration of all ports bound trucks and drivers on Ètò.