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ETO Call-Up System failure: NPA blames truck drivers, freight forwarders, TTP



By Seun Ibiyemi

The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has blamed truck drivers, freight forwarding community, as well as its consultant; Truck Transit Park Limited (TTP) for the hiccups and failures of the ETo Callup system, an electronic system introduced to ensure free flow of trucks in and out of the ports.

Speaking at a Townhall meeting organised by National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) in partnership with Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO) during the week, NPA Apapa Port Manager, Mr Charles Bamidele Okaga said the Eto Call-Up system is a sophisticated solution that has worked in advanced countries but failed in Nigeria due to insincerity and the Nigerian factor.

Speaking at the Townhall meeting tagged, “Towards Promoting and Enhancing Traffic Sanity, Orderliness Along Port Access Corridors in Lagos Nigeria,” the NPA port manager also claimed that extortion on the port access road has stopped.

On the ETO call-up system, Mr Okaga said, “The concept worked from inception, but after sometime, because the operator of the facility (TTP) is a Nigerian, the enforcement teams are Nigerians, the truck drivers are Nigerians, the park owners are Nigerians, so Nigerians came into electronic callup system and we begin to have confusion all over the place.

“The system we are using is an ‘Oyinbo’ system, can we please start behaving the way the Oyinbo man would behave and everything would work well, I can tell you today that, if we all agree to key into the policy, it would work well and nobody would have any issues. If we all agree to be orderly, it would get to everybody’s turn in good time.

“Now, because we are Nigerians, the man with 200 trucks wants all the trucks to enter the port at once, while the man with one truck is not able to enter the port.

“A single truck would have five plate numbers and all the five numbers are on the ETO system, how then do we have accurate data of the number of trucks we are having?

“Government is also at fault, the road starts breaking down until it becomes a big problem and the Government would not respond to it. So, if we all decide to play our roles, we would have a better situation.

“NPA has an MSS sticker that should ordinarily authenticate your ownership and clearance to go into the port, but people refused to stick it to their truck, so, the essence of introducing it was defeated.

“The E-Tag that TTP is planning, in as much as we stick it on our windshield, would the same thing that happened to the NPA sticker not happen to it?

“TTP does not need approval before commencing the implementation of E-Tag. Our worry is that since approval is being sought, we hope it would be of no additional cost.

“For NPA, we are checking the sensitivity of anything that would increase the cost of doing business, even if it is by 1kobo. This is what led to the slight delay in the approval of E-Tag, because the solution is supposed to be comprehensive.

“Our appeal to Truckers is that they should endeavour to obey the rules. Truckers would leave the port with imports and line up on the whole of Creek Road, and they would complain of extortion. The access road is not a parking space, you have to go back to the park you were called from.

“On the issue of extortion on the port corridor, Truckers would also agree that extortion has stopped since the roads became clear. It is evidence that once there is chaos, people would want to profit from it,” he said.

Mr Okaga also noted that the NPA has introduced three days validity for trucks which have left the parks to the pre-gate.

He however said that truckers are complaining that the three days are insufficient. He urged Truckers to come forward with genuine evidence or reports on why the three days is not enough. He lampooned the gathering of truckers saying that many of them are insincere in their dealings.

According to him, “The TTP on paper would release 500 trucks from parks to pre-gate, but physically we would only see 150 trucks, you have to talk to yourselves, when people who don’t have business to do, people who are speculators looking for tickets to sell, they find themselves into our community, making it difficult for people with legitimate businesses to do their businesses, fake numbers have blocked the access to the port.

“All the parks have capacity, but on paper, TTP would say the park is full, meanwhile on physical verification, the park is not full.

“We are also appealing to truckers to write their numbers on their trucks, this would stop fraudsters from hijacking your cargoes before you arrive at the port.

“The NPA is still not getting enough cooperation from the truckers,” he said.


NIWA to allow installmental payments for boat operators training



By Seun Ibiyemi

Following appeals from boat operators on flexible payments for training, the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) has approved installmental payments to encourage more participation.

The Managing Director of NIWA, Mr. Munirudeen Oyebamiji, gave this concession during a training programme for boat operators in Lagos on Saturday.

Oyebamiji, who was represented by the Lagos Area Manager, Engr. Sarat Braimah, observed that with the option of installments, no operator would have excuses to avoid the training.

“If the operators pay 30 percent of the fee, they can start the training and another 30 percent should be paid during the training. Before receiving their certificates, they should have completed the total payments. This approach is to get everyone onboard with the training. Training is key and it’s better we work together to achieve it.

“The training fee is N80,000 and this covers a period of 3 years. After this payment, the next fees for recertification only costs N16,000 yearly. When you break down the N80,000 into a 3-year span, you’ll find that it costs less than N75 per day,” the NIWA boss said.

According to the NIWA boss, boat operators must have a minimum of 4 lifebuoys on their crafts as she observed that one lifebuoy could save up to 6 people during a boat mishap.

In a bid to maintain safe operations on the Lagos waterways, the NIWA boss also noted that the Authority will commence frequent patrols along the inland waterways.

“NIWA patrol boats will commence monitoring and inspections along the Lagos waterways. With almost 50 members of staff at NIWA Lagos office, 38 police officials, 100 joint task force (JTF) personnel and our collaboration with Marine Police; I believe we have sufficient manpower to carry out frequent patrols which will stimulate the boat operators to conduct their operations in a safe manner,” the regulator said.

During the meeting, some boat operators decried lack of funds to change their boats and beckoned on the federal government to allow them access the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund (CVFF) for financial support.

The operators also alleged that some government agencies extort them on the inland waterways along the Badagry creeks, fingering Nigerian Navy, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Marine Police, Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), among others as the extortionists.

Top waterways operators including the President of Waterfront Boat Owners and Transporters Association (WABOTAN), Mr. Tope Fajemirokun; representatives of Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) and Association of Tourist Boat Operators and Water Transporters of Nigeria (ATBOWATON) graced the occasion which had over 250 boat captains and deckhands from the Badagry region.

The boat captains and deckhands were also trained on how to avoid boat accidents, best approaches during boat mishaps to save lives and minimise casualties, while they also learnt how to manage their vessels for durability and efficient operations.

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Shippers’ Council hosts West African Container Terminal team



The Nigerian Shippers’ Council, South-South Zonal office in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, last week played host to a team of management staffers from the West African Container Terminal WACT, located within the Onne Ports Complex, who was on a courtesy visit to the country’s Economic Regulator for the seaport industry.

Speaking during the visit, Zonal Coordinator of the Council, Mr. Glory Onojedo, who led other top management staff to give a warm reception to the visiting team, thanked the management of WACT for finding time to visit the Council.

He listed some of the challenges encountered by officials of the Council in trying to perform their duties of enforcing the mandate of the Council to include the inability to access WACT facilities, as they were prevented by the security personnel of the company.

He further disclosed that the NSC officials are usually stopped at the entrance of the WACT office by these security personnel, which he suspected was a deliberate effort to stop the Council’s officials from overseeing the port activities at the WACT terminal.

While acknowledging some of the challenges that were being faced at Onne, which include but not limited to poor state of access roads, which are currently being fixed, Mr. Onojedo lauded WACT for providing shelter for agencies and other stakeholders operating at Onne Seaport, as well as its newly introduced initiative known as Container Freight Station (CFS).

On its recently launched Online Registration Portal for port operators and users, Mr. Onojedo noted that the essence of the registration portal is for Nigerian Shippers’ Council to know the real players across the ports, pointing out that a time would come when those players that are not registered or recognised by Shippers’ Council will not have access to the ports across the nation, adding that the essence of regulation is to ensure compliance.

Meanwhile, General Manager, Government Relations, WACT, Mr. Innocent Ogbuji, who led the delegation on the visit, said the essence of the visit was to inform the Council that WACT recently reshuffled its management team, hence the need to introduce the new team to the Nigerian Shippers’ Council.

Mr. Ogbuji, who also spoke on the digitalised nature of WACT’s operations at the Onne Port, among others, lauded Mr. Glory Onojedo for being supportive to WACT, and used the visit to proffer solutions on the issues of non -accessibility to WACT, among others that were raised by Mr. Onojedo, for onward unlimited access and communication with WACT.

The new Managing Director of WACT Mr. Jeethu Jose and the new Commercial Manager, Mr. Ismaila Badjie, who were among the visiting team, expressed their heart-felt gratitude on the warm reception accorded them by the NSC team.

While responding on some of the issues raised during the visit, which hinged on mutual working relationship, seamless operations and working in synergy to boost the economy of the country the duo assured that the new management team of WACT was poised for a robust synergy with all agencies and relevant stakeholders to enhance seamless port operations.

Director, Public Relations of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Mrs. Patricia Osumaw in her closing remarks, commended the MD of WACT, Mr. Jeethu Jose and his management team for such a wonderful visit. She requested that such interactions and collaborative meetings should be more frequent to enhance their respective work performances.

High points of the visit include the formal introduction of the two new management officers and signing of the visitors’ register by Mr. Jeethu Jose.

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NIWA issues three-month ultimatum for mandatory training, license by boat operators



In a bid to enhance water safety and address recent spates of mishaps, the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Lagos Area Office has organised a pivotal industry meeting and safety sensitisation program for boat skippers and deck hands operating in Lagos waterways.

Engr. Sarat Braimah, the NIWA Lagos Area Manager, during the meeting at the Area Office in Lagos on Saturday underscored the significance of the meeting, stating its primary purpose was to address challenges faced by boat operators, express concerns, and collectively strategise a way forward. She lamented the recent surge in mishaps, emphasising that ensuring the safety of waterways is a shared responsibility.

Highlighting the lack of basic safety measures among boat operators, Braimah announced NIWA’s collaboration with certified trainers to provide training at the rate of N80,000. Upon successful completion, operators will receive a license valid for three years, renewable upon expiration.

Braimah also noted that boat operators are granted a three-month window to undergo training and obtain licenses, after which enforcement will commence. She stressed that errant operators failing to comply will face sanctions and prosecution.

NIWA HOD Marine, Mrs. Elsie Egwantu, stressed the importance of refreshing memories and sensitising operators on safety measures. She urged operators to actively participate, express concerns, and engage in the process.

During the session, boat operators voiced concerns about inadequate remuneration, receiving a meager N3,000 per day with only one day off work. To meet trip targets, some operators admitted to managing faulty engines, leading to overspeeding.

They explained that the rush to beat the 7:00 pm jetty closure time, avoiding a N50,000 penalty from LASWA, contributed to the unsafe practices.

The event saw the participation of over 180 boat captains from various jetties, including Ebute Ero, Majidun, Mayegun, Ijede, Ibeshe, Ofin, Badore, and Ajah.

Notably, nine boat captains have already undergone the training, obtaining the necessary certification and license.

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