The Nigerian Ports Authority NPA has said that the enforcement of the new Minimum Safety Standards for trucks entering the nation’s seaports across the country would take effect March 1, 2017, barring any sudden change of mind.

These new Minimum Standards of Safety and Road Worthiness MSSRW, for all the trucks entering the nation’s major seaports, is sequel to a Memorandum of Understanding MoU, signed with the Federal Road Safety Corps FRSC, as part of measure to stem the increasing cases of containers falling off articulated vehicles, which have claimed scores of lives.

Managing Director of the authority, Ms. Hadiza Bala Usman, who spoke on the new partnership, disclosed that the new agreement would require operatives of the Federal Road Safety Corps to first clear every truck intending to access the seaports either to pick or drop containers at the port before it is allowed in.

According to her, this new arrangement is in line with the responsibility of NPA to protect lives and property of all stakeholders accessing her services by ensuring that all articulated vehicles and trucks which on daily basis freight containers and assorted bulk cargoes to different parts of the country from the ports meet the required minimum safety standards with a view to reducing carnage on the roads.

“NPA is collaborating with the FRSC also as part of measures to put lasting solutions to the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway gridlock.

“We had to involve the FRSC and other safety enforcement agencies to ensure full compliance with the new safety measures. This is with a view to achieving safety standard for trucks and other articulated vehicles entering the ports through the adoption of Road Traffic Safety Standarisation Scheme RTSSS”, the MD also said

It was however gathered that the new regulations would include but not limited to regular inspection and certification of the fleet of the NPA.

The MD noted that these measures had also become necessary to enhance efficiency in port operation at the nation’ two biggest cargo seaports; the Tin Can Island Ports Complex and Lagos Ports Complex, both in Apapa.

For instance, the LPC, which is the biggest in terms of cargo volumes, accounting for more than 65 per cent of dry cargoes imports and over 90 per cent of the nation’s liquid (petroleum products) imports also plays host to about nine terminal operators.

The TCIP, which is the second biggest, houses no fewer than 35 tank farms and other related facilities in addition to the numerous other businesses that are located in this port city, thus making the two seaports crucial to the growth and development of the nation’s economy.

The NPA-boss insisted that given this volume of operational activities, there is always heavy vehicular traffic in and around all port locations arguing that most of these vehicles are not in good condition, thus making this regulation imperative.

“This debilitating vehicular traffic has assumed a frightening dimension in so many port areas. It has led to serious accidents that have claimed innocent lives and several man hours’ lost in traffic jam. Miscreants in arm robbery and other social vices have been on increase because of the perennial traffic situation in those areas”.

It is also note worthy that efforts made by the NPA in the past to put in place in conjunction with some other state government agencies and terminal operators to ameliorate the situation could not achieve the desired results partly because most of the vehicles plying the roads are not road worthy” she also said.

Usman therefore urged the FRSC to ensure that no rickety vehicle was allowed to enter the ports in order to achieve the goals and objectives of the new policy..

Meanwhile, Corps Marshal of the FRSC, Mr. Boboye Oyeyemi, while speaking at the MoU signing ceremony, expressed joy over the decision of NPA initiate the new regulation, which he said if properly applied, would eliminate rickety trucks from the nation’s port system.

He enjoined truck owners operating within and around the ports to strictly adhere to the minimum safety standards in order to ensure safety of haulage operations, saying that the FRSC will stop at nothing in enforcing every aspects of the new regulations.

While emphasising that the March 1, deadline for the commencement of the rew regulation is sacrosanct, he hinted that the field commands of the agency would be fully on ground for the enforcement of the policy, insisting that adequate and appropriate driver education and speed limiter are vital and would therefore, be enforced by the officers and men of the agency.

Boboye, who also commended the NPA management for initiating the new synergy, he urged fleet and truck owners and other relevant groups to adhere to the new regulations.