The Federal Government’s withdrawal of the Nigerian Navy and other military formations from controlling traffic at the Apapa Port has been lauded as a welcome development by some truck owners.
Mr Abdullahi Mohammad-Inunwa, the Lagos State Vice-President, National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) Dry Cargo Sector, gave the commendation on Sunday.
He disclosed in a telephone interview that the directive was a welcome development to his members.
The Federal Government had last Wednesday mandated the Nigerian Navy and all other military formations to withdraw from traffic management duties in and around the Apapa axis.
It also said that all military and paramilitary checkpoints in front of the ports and environs should be dismantled.
The government said that the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) should move into Apapa as the lead traffic management agency.
It also said that the NPA should commence the immediate use of the Lilypond Terminal and Trailer Park A as a truck transit park.
He said that the inclusion of the security agencies in the task force had compounded the gridlock in and around the port.
He said, “When President Muhammadu Buhari visited Lagos during his electioneering, the trucks were cleared off the roads within hours.
“The public then asked what magic was performed by us to achieve it.
“But, there was no other magic that we performed than synergising with the Nigeria Ports Authority’s Task Force Chairman, Commodore Eyo, and the Council of Maritime Transport Union Association (COMTUA).
“We had meetings with NPA where we jointly agreed on modalities to apply.
“The NPA team then promised to introduce truck manual call-up scheme, ” he said.
Inua also attributed the gridlock to the failure of some shipping companies to provide truck bays as stipulated in their agreement with the government.
“The shipping companies were not able to provide truck bays outside the port.
“With truck bays, they will be able to move their trucks in batches after receiving approval from the NPA to the terminals for either loading or dropping off, of empty containers.”
The Head of Operations of COMTUA also said that this deficiency on the part of the shipping companies amounted to sabotaging Federal Government’s policy on ease of doing business at the port.
He called for an effective transport call-up system for entry of trucks to port which he said was successful in the first three weeks of its introduction.
He said that both the government and the truck owners were losing billions of naira as a result of the gridlock .
He commended the Federal Government for acting on the petitions by the truck owners and pleaded for the inclusion of COMTUA in a new task force that would be reconstituted for the port access road.