Failed Lagos Ports Roads
NPA boss snubbed minister’s quick fix directive
Contrary to claims that the Nigerian ports Authority (NPA) is leading in the urgent quest to fix the failed Lagos ports access roads, free it from the over six years gridlock and return to cost efficient port trade and services, the leadership of the authority may have engaged in direct plot to abort quick resolution initiatives recommended by a world Bank export consultant, NAFIT, and approved by the Minister of Transportation, Hon. Chubuike Amaechi for immediate implementation.
The consultant who was reportedly engaged by the FG to study and recommend solution to solve the traffic problem was believed to have recommended an Intelligence Traffic Management System (ITMS) which consist of a number of realignment in the design of the Apapa Business District traffic superstructure, reduction of human and vehicular access to ports and tank farms through electronics call-up system and the establishment of trucks parking terminals for which 40million US Dollar was budgeted, and which the transport minister after a meeting with the leadership of Nigerian Shippers’ Council and NPA, directed the duo to source for the fund and execute the recommendation.
But the NPA boss was believed to have opted for her own solution to the problem in disregard of the HMOT explicit directive to liaise with her NSC CEO, Barrister Hassan Bello to prepare the budget and get the job done. Bello who made above disclosure weekend in Lagos, said NAFIT was of the view that an honest implementation of the ITMS would make the perennial gridlock disappear under six months, return the ports and tank farms to efficiency, unlock the revenue windows that has been in shut for almost a decade, correct the shoreline port/tank farms design flaw, reinvent the business district’s traffic system to accommodate link access users, restore electricity in the area, among other essential corrective recommendations.
In addition, the Council CEO said the system reconnect will create over 1600 direct and indirect employment in the new anxiliary business hubs such as truck parking terminals and empty containers bay that would be established, flowing from the recommendation by the renowned consultant. Hassan who spoke through the agency Director Monitoring, Chief Cajethan Agu during the lecture title ‘Nigerian Shippers’ Council as an Interventionist Agency’ during a one day training programme the agency organized for maritime journalists in Lagos, said the Council is committed to freeing the port from all manner of encumbrances, whether human, physical and or, environmental.
Apart from its concerns with the prevailing ugly port access roads, he listed other areas of intervention by the agency to include port infrastructure audit, efficient shipping and terminal tariff regime, protection of Nigeria and shippers, amicable resolution of disputes between stakeholders, monitoring and compliance etc.
Hassan vowed that the Council will continue to play its statutory role as port economic regulator to continue to insist on fair play, best practices and good governance, even as the Council pledged it will not to be intimated by shipping companies and terminal operators seeming resolve to use legal ploy and corporate crabbiness to thwart Council’s effort at ensuring level playing field for all stakeholders.
This is even as the Council announced the recovery of over #80 million from shipping companies between January to June 2018, through default charges fraud, unscrupulously imposed on importers.
According to Agu, “Between January and now, we have gotten up to #80 million. If you translate the $23,000 that COSCO paid, it’s up to #10million and don’t forget, we carried out enforcement at G.A.C. There was a refund because almost 30 containers which were held captive were released. There is even another one with same COSCO, the demurrage waivers and other interventions”. He said that the Council will continue to resist un-warranted imposition of charges on shippers which has made Nigerian port trade the costliest in Central and West Africa.
Recall that the leadership of Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) recently lauded Hadiza for her purported proactive and purposeful response approach to finding solutions to end the Apapa road crises via offer to rehabilitate the roads, but allegedly been rebuffed by the works ministry which feel it is its statutory duty, and warned NPA not to trespass. President General of MWUN, Comrade Adenale Adajanju said in an interview with Pinnacle Time that he is aware that Hadiza desired to fix the roads but that she is been fenced out to face her own job.
Adeyanju said the union late last year secured a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with NPA, its supervisory transport ministry and the works ministry, the content of which is a promise by these government organs to complete the repairs of the Lagos port roads by the end of yesterday, June 2018. The union leader has warned that failure by the MDAs to meet its pledge would result a return to its ultimatum, with a possible directive calling on dockworkers to down tools.
The NSC Director for Special Duty, Mr. Ignatius Nweke who also stood for the agency`s helmsmen said the Council is committed to partnering with the maritime media and to support any initiative intended to sharpen media reportorial skills, raise reporting standards, expertise and ethics, and other initiatives that will also lead to very objective and insightful corrective and sound developmental journalism that will impact on processes and contributions at rejuvenating the port potential growth.
Also, Mrs. Ada Okam, a staff of the department of the Council’s public affairs who delivered a paper on the media in contemporary maritime industry, after examining the role and impact of the media on the industry, submitted that there has been a nagging corporate lack of trust by both the media and maritime policy players and corporate bodies, as well indeed, lack of essential and adequate training. Noting that the media has the tool and capacity to solve and also create problems by way of negative reportorial perception, she urged practitioners to direct their editorial contents to constructive criticism and analysis, while remaining objective with their daily news reports.
Mr. Sesan Onileimon, publisher of Shipping Position newspaper, ace veteran maritime journalist and facilitator of the seminar in his vote of thanks expressed maritime reporters gratitude to the Council, especially its CEO, Hassan Bello, who he said has “remained a pillar of professional encouragement and lover of developmental journalism”.