By Godwin Oritse
There are indications that the newly introduced electronic call-up system for truck access to the seaports may have started yielding results.
Stakeholders told Vanguard Maritime Report that indiscriminate packing of trucks along the Apapa roads as well as extortion of truck drivers have reduced drastically.
They also hinted that the gang of security and ports operatives perpetrating the extortions may be losing about N100 million daily due to this development.
Speaking to Vanguard Maritime Report in Lagos, the Chief Operating Officer of the Transit Truck Park Limited, Mr. Dayo Adeboye, said the electronic call-up system was meant to eradicate the issue of extortion and reduce cost of cargo delivery.
He stated: “The system was designed to deal with extortion. The implementation is in three phases, and it is mainly to tackle extortion. One is development of physical infrastructure, stakeholders’ management and collaboration and deployment of technology.
“The only reason extortion takes place is because trucks park on the road and they pay security agents to allow them park on the road and from there, they hustle their way into the ports. So everybody is using different means to access the ports and that is what is causing the congestion.
“What the project is trying to do is gate all the trucks and then schedule them according to what stakeholders in the port can use every hour. When this is done, all the roads will be free of traffic and even on the common user roads within the ports.
“With the e-call-up system, immediately your ticket is printed, that means you have a parking lot in an holding bay. So you are moving from point to point, you are not on the road, so why would anybody ask you for money. That is how we plan to stop the extortion and Lagos State is suppose to bring enforcement, no parking, no stopping, no truck is allowed to stop on the road you have to enter one of the holding bays. Lagos State is also helping us to sensitize security agents to stop the extortion. Lagos has a special task force implementing this project.”
President of the Association of Maritime Trucks Owners, AMATO, Mr. Remi Ogungbemi, also confirmed the development and called on the operators of the truck park to be more security conscious of the system.
Ogungbemi, however, commended the introduction of the electronic call-up system adding that the system is better than what was obtainable before now.
He explained that the introduction of the system has reduced the extortion, fighting and other vices that were associated with unregulated system of allowing trucks into the ports without official permission.
He said: “There are ways to checkmating the forgery, they should put more efforts, they should put more security features that will make it impossible for them to forge.
“In every situation, there must be a way out, no system is perfect, the implementation has started and I am also commending the efforts and I appreciate it no matter the challenges they are facing now.
“I want to let you know that no matter the challenges we are facing right now, no matter how bad the system is now, what we are having presently is far better than where we are coming from because the rate of extortion, exploitation, intimidation, death, fatigue and stress has reduced drastically.
“And the amount being expended to pass the trucks has also reduced drastically, but my only concern is that the operator should be careful not to allow sycophants to hijack the system.”