Bello-Koko told reporters in Lagos on Sunday that the traffic congestion problem had challenged solutions “for over 10 years now”.
With many trucks and other articulated vehicles always lining up to enter or exit Apapa Port, the road is constantly chaotic with heavy traffic jams stretching for several miles across Lagos.
“At NPA, we believe that priority should be given to our export cargo, but the main challenge for me is how to resolve the deadlock in Apapa.
“One of the first leadership actions I took on my appointment was to visit the Tin can Apapa Corridor to make sure the right things are being done and the right infrastructure being deployed. We are getting there little by little.
“We have measures in place to minimize congestion in and around the port. NPA used a manual manifesto and an appeal system which was not very effective due to human interference.
“We have implemented an ETO (Electronic Call System) system to ensure smooth movement of goods in and out of the port.
“The TTP company got from Lilly Ponds to find out when they should be running. The idea was to make sure that all incoming trucks were supposed to go from trailer parks to Lilly Ponds and then to the port.
“They were supposed to have deployed physical and electronic infrastructure, but it was not done. When I was appointed, I gave them an ultimatum to make sure these items were installed as quickly as possible.
“I can assure you today that there has been more deployment of assets by TTP.
“I also asked that we sit down and re-evaluate what they have accomplished. Incidentally.
“ETO was 90 days old when I took over. We did an analysis to see where we are, what has been accomplished and we have identified the gaps. So what I did was push for the immediate implementation of the agreement between us and TTP.
“The idea of the app, whatever you come up with, there has to be an app, so we liaised with the Lagos State government to make sure we have the right security guards on the ground. .
“We have also worked with the Lagos State Government through the Lagos State Transportation Management Agency (LASMA), which has brought a little more sanity to the system.
“Due to our intense focus, there is already some improvement. The traffic is better. But let me finally say that the main obstacle to ETO is the road.
“The Tin Can corridor is bad. We have had discussions with the Federal Department of Public Works and Housing to make sure the construction company deploys its gadgets to begin construction around this area.
“We also complained about several checkpoints that we tried to reduce because it causes a lot of extortion and creates a lot of traffic.
“The last problem is the stakeholders themselves; they have to adhere to that. I keep saying that the worst of ETO is better than the best of the last system we were using, ”he said.
He said the NPA had met with stakeholders and agreed that any fleet of trucks that did not install CCTV, ensure proper convenience for vehicle owners and drivers, and did not have an automated door system should be removed.
“The idea is for truck parking lots to be integrated into the ETO system,” he said.
He also spoke of other challenges at the port and agreed that some were caused by people sabotaging NPA efforts.
“What we have observed is interference from government agencies and stakeholders themselves.
“Rather than paying the ETO ticket, they find a way to bring in the military. You discover that at night, soldiers escort vehicles, it is sabotage.
“The stakeholders themselves must adhere to the ETO system. We have had town halls with stakeholders to make them understand that this is a system that we are not going to change.
“The world has become automated, so we need to reduce human interference. “
The general manager also complained about the activities of touts generally referred to as “area boys”.
“They (the boys in the area) are involved in the extortion and are finding ways to hijack these trucks. We discovered a building not far from Apapa’s gate where you can print a license plate in less than 20 minutes.
“This number can be used to get an ETO ticket. We told the security agencies; they searched the building and investigations are underway. Thus, we are moving from normal ETO which has numbers to QR codes that are difficult to duplicate.
“There are also saboteurs even among our staff. We had to interview the relevant NPA staff and are taking action.
We have sent some home for proper investigation. Others were interviewed and some were moved through ports.
“We have made it clear that we will not tolerate saboteurs in the system, no matter where they come from,” he said.
He pointed out that for the ETO system to function properly, there must be several trailer parks.
“We have been advertising and people have expressed interest in providing the parks that the NPA will use for ETO.
“We gave them what they needed to qualify: uninterrupted power supply through CCTV and automated systems, Internet access network and automated portal systems.
“Some of them started, some didn’t. Those who didn’t deploy, we gave them a few more days but I think in no more than 10 days any park that doesn’t meet these requirements, we will take it off the list and give the others a chance.
“If the parks are not efficient and do not meet our expectations, ETO’s efficiency will also be affected. We have given them a few days, after which we will remove from the list those who do not meet the requirements.
“As at our last meeting, the decision is to give them a maximum of two weeks,” he said.
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