ETO: NPA Says Apapa Traffic Gridlock Down By 80%
BY EGUONO ODJEGBA
Five months after assuming office, Acting Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello Koko, says the incremental deployment of the electronic call-up infrastructure for cargo trucks (known as “Eto”), launched in February this year has to a large extent resolved the endemic Apapa vehicular gridlock, even as the authority keeps reviewing and improving .
A statement by the Authority General Manager Corporate and Strategic Communications, Olaseni Alakija, quoted Bello-Koko as making the disclosure as a guest on a breakfast programme, monitored in Lagos.
Bello-Ko ko explained that while the Authority is not unmindful of the pains of Apapa residents, what remains is to address the gridlock caused by the failed portion along the Mile 2 – Tin-Can Port road, insisting that as soon as the entire stretch of the Tin-Can Port highway is completed, the perennial gridlock within Apapa would be completely eliminated.
He added that he would fully deploy the ‘Eto’ call-up infrastructure for trucks along the Tin-Can Port corridor thereafter. Bello-Koko said the ETO infrastructure has improved significantly under his administration.
“The ‘Eto’ truck booking system was launched in February, and when I assumed office my first act was to carry out a comprehensive review of the system and we directed the system manager to immediately address all areas of deficiencies. These infrastructure upgrades coupled with the support of the Lagos State Government and other stakeholders, the vehicular gridlock along the Ijora – Apapa axis had reduced by over 80 percent and am sure residents of Apapa can attest to this.”
He further said that the Authority has fully embraced multimodal transportation by encouraging better use of barges and port-rail, for the movement of laden and empty containers in and out of the ports, a development that has brought significant reduction in the cost of doing business at the ports.
According to him, “as part of efforts to kick-off the electronic call up system, a fully automated transit truck park was established while 29 satellite parks were approved to ensure that trucks coming to do business in the port are properly profiled and verified before accessing the port. Out of the 29 parks, about eight have met the required standards, which include installation of bollards, CCTVs, automated gate systems and relevant IT equipment.”
He noted that apart from few isolated cases, where some truck drivers try to subvert the system by not adhering strictly to the truck manifest arrangement with its attendant disruption, the e-call up has been able to streamline cargo evacuation and truck movements, thereby bringing a level of sanity to the roads.
He equally attributed the elimination of the Apapa gridlock to the new policy introduced by the Authority, which compelled shipping lines to ship out no less than 80 percent of the number of containers shipped in, for every voyage be it empty containers or export cargo.
He said: “Over time, we discovered that most shipping lines were storing their empty containers in Nigeria, which was cheaper for them, but we have introduced a policy whereby shipping companies should to take back 80 percent of the laden containers they brought into the country from the stock of empties and export cargo, this has also reduced the number of trucks with empty containers waiting on the roads.
“What this meant in a lay man’s language is that if a vessel brings 100 containers for instance, such vessel must take back 80 containers, which must be among the empties and export containers, without which she would not be allowed to sail out of the ports.”
The NPA boss declared that a total of 80,000 trucks have so far registered on the ‘Eto’ platform, however only 16,000 trucks have met the minimum safety standards, which is an indication, that more work is needed to enthrone safety and prevent accidents within the port area, adding:
“There will be continuous improvement of ETO system including the deployment of additional physical and IT infrastructure as well as grant approval for more transit parks to cushion the excruciating pains of truckers he noted.”