Exclusive: Apapa Port workers groan over absence of intra-transport system
BY FRANCIS EZEM
Strong indications emerged that many workers at the Lagos Ports Complex LPC, Apapa are currently undergoing tough times going in and out of the complex for their official duties due to the total absence of port intra-transport system.
Recall that one of the fallouts of the port reform programme, which transferred cargo handling functions from the Nigerian Ports Authority NPA to private terminal operators, was the introduction of access control mechanisms, which include placement of restrictions on the movement of persons within the complex, as it also requires stevedoring companies to take their dock workers to and from work in buses.
Business and Transport however reliably gathered that this policy is taking its toll on some categories of workers at the ports, especially, members of staff of some government agencies, whose organisations lack the wherewithal to convey the workers to and from their work places in buses and other private vehicles, a development that has made life miserable to them.
One of the affected workers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said it has become increasingly difficult for them, especially middle and low cadre workers, who cannot afford private cars to access their work places due to the total absence of intra-port transport system.
The worker cited the instance of those port workers, whose offices are located within the control towers and bull nose area of the port, which is over three kilometres from the main gate, which they have to trek through every morning and evening while going and returning from work their work locations or wait endlessly for the very few that are mobile.
Investigations also show that the worse category of workers hit by this problem are those government and security agencies working within the Control Tower Complex, also called Bakassi which houses the Nigeria Immigration Service, the Port Health and the Police Ordinance Bomb Disposal Unit of the Nigeria Police, among several others.
It was further gathered that more than 98 per cent of the workers in this complex are not mobile, leaving them with the choice of trekking the over three kilometre distance under rain or shine or alternatively wait for a free ride from other port workers, who when available drop them just half-way around the clearing agent’s area or the scanning location.
The source also hinted that apart from those working with the various government agencies, other workers including clearing agents are not left out of this challenge.
According to him, efforts to make the NPA management see reasons to introduce a regulated transport system in the ports have been rebuffed, as series of letters to the management to that effect were never acknowledged or replied.