…Berate Joint Taskforce for gridlock on ports corridors
It was a special convergence of Maritime pundits and media practitioners on Apapa, Lagos, recently, as stakeholders at a roundtable, brainstormed on the challenges and the way forward for the Maritime Sector in the new year.
Maritime watchers and practitioners, during the first Congress of The Powerful Pen Media Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists(NUJ),held in Apapa Lagos, enumerated the challenges bedeviling the ports industry, which one out of the myriads is the non-compliance of Shipping Companies and Truckers by not making provisions for holding bays for empty boxes and trucks thereby obstructing vehicular traffic on ports corridors.
Speaking to media practitioners at the extra ordinary congress of the Media Chapel in Lagos,Alh. Abdulahi Inua, the immediate past vice Chairman of National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), disclosed that over 80 per cent of trucks obstructing vehicular traffic on ports corridors are laden with empty boxes and beckoned on the authorities in charge to take absolute responsibility for restoration of sanity into the system. Inua added that shipping Companies should as a matter of urgency be compelled to provide holding bays for empty containers.
Adding his voice, Chief Boniface Okoye, Managing Director, Bontex Nigeria Ltd., pointed out that Shipping Companies operate with impunity because of lapses in the area of regulation and oversight thereby making things very difficult for Nigerians, stressing the need for them to be put in proper check. He lamented that Shipping Companies fail to refund container deposits while making reckless demand for demurrages, stating that the class of bourgeoisie that own the shipping Companies still influence federal government policies and worst still, conspire with traffic managers to rubbish the good efforts of clearing agents. ” Shipping Companies are just untouchable, they are not checked, they operate with impunity and are not called to order.” He accused Nigeria Shippers Council (NSC),of being part of the problem having failed woefully in the discharge of their regulatory duty, he further condemned the inefficiency of the Council saying that it has also failed to regulate the freight paid by shippers to Shipping Companies as they endorse whatever charges Shipping Companies impose on shippers because of their selfish interests.
Also present at the congress was the TinCan Chapter Chairman, National Council for Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), Alh.Kazeem Isa Adua. Lending his voice, he pointed out that Apapa and TinCan ports receive over 75 per cent of total cargo throughput but lamented that the two ports neither uphold maintenance culture nor embark on development project to ammeliorate the sufferings of ports users. Stressing that the monstrous traffic on ports corridors is man made, attributing it to the shady deals and shenanigans of personnel assigned to manage the traffic, calling for urgent overhaul of traffic control measure for easy human and vehicular movement.
Alh. Isa Ardua urged agencies saddled with regulatory affairs to rise up to their responsibilities, calling for proper management of the truck parks established by government saying that they are not properly utilised as they have become personal parking lots to some truck owners. He went ahead to encourage barge operation saying that it is one of the best measures to tackling the perennial gridlock on ports corridors. He also called for adequate attention to other ports outside TinCan and Apapa for drastic reduction of the influx of trucks on major corridors adding that reduction of gridlock and other road challenges can be possible if Satellite ports are made to commence full operation.
Other stakeholders were also allowed to lend their voices on the burning issues that formed the discussion as a communique was issued at the end of the special congress.
The president of Maritime Journalists Association of Nigeria, Comrade Ray Ugochukwu, who also served as the moderator expressed optimism that the points raised at the summit and the solutions proffered and are made available in the communique, and urged the authorities to adopt them as working instruments in the New Year.
In the same vein, the Chairman of The Powerful Pen Media Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, Mr. Asuquo Nuwak appreciated everyone in attendance, describing them as “real patriots”. He went ahead and urged chapel members not to relent in their efforts to repositioning the Maritime Industry via factual, prompt and unbiased reportage.