The Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority, Hadiza Bala Usman has said that multinational shipping companies operating in the country remain the greatest beneficiaries of the chaotic traffic situation in Apapa, which houses Nigeria’s two biggest seaports; the Lagos Ports Complex and Tin Can Island Ports Complex.

Speaking on the Maritime Segment of the Lagos Traffic Radio monitored in Lagos, the Managing Director, disclosed that the shipping companies have for too long taken advantage of the gridlock in Apapa to fleece unsuspecting consignees (importers), who could not return their empty containers on schedule due to traffic.

Recall that NPA is currently concluding plans to officially flag off its electronic call-up system for all trucks that call at the nation’s seaport terminals through an online app called ETO, under which trucks would remain at designated truck parks waiting to be called up to pick or drop consignments at the ports, which is designed to curb the chaotic traffic situation.

She said the management has therefore directed that going forward, all shipping firms must receive empty containers from trucks at their designated holding bays as against the current situation where trucks laden with empty containers park indiscriminately on the port access roads and adjoining street, thus disrupting free flow of traffic.

According to her, it was not right that a segment of the industry would cash in on the traffic situation to fleece other stakeholders, which she said is contrary to international best practice.

“For a very long time, the shipping companies have benefited from this chaos as consignees find it difficult to return the empty containers to the port within the stipulated period, a disqualification from being be able to collect their refund of container deposit from the shipping companies.

“The NPA management has therefore directed shipping companies to receive empty containers from consignees (importers) at their holding bays. It is now the responsibility of shipping companies to bring empty containers to the ports”, the MD also said.

On the deployment of the electronic call-up system, she disclosed that a total of eight truck terminals have been acquired with a capacity take over 3,000 trucks for a start.

She also said that the corruption allegations levelled against the government agencies charged with the management of traffic at the port access roads would be addressed when ETO is fully deployed.

She also said: “We have identified eight truck parks under the ETO as part of efforts to eliminate the indiscriminate parking of trucks on our roads, particularly the roads leading to the ports. These designated truck parks have the capacity to receive 3,000 trucks at a time. The roads can no longer be used as parking lots and only trucks assigned with cargo can access the ports. Efforts are also on increase the number of truck parks so that more trucks would be taken off the roads.

“The Nigerian Ports Authority after painstakingly evaluating the negative impact of this traffic menace on port efficiency and its attendant consequences to the environment, we saw it has become necessary to introduce a new solution, which will address the problems if properly managed.”