By Steve Agbota
Maritime sector stakeholders have said that the electronic call-up system being deployed by the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA), could save Nigeria over $10 billion yearly loss on agro products that usually rot due to gridlock before reaching their destinations in Europe.
Earlier, the NPA had said it would commence the electronic call-up system for all trucks calling at the nation’s ports from February 27, 2020 and by extension, the Authority launched Eto App for truck drivers that would be responsible for the scheduling entry and exit of all trucks into the ports.
Stakeholders who spoke with Daily Sun at the weekend, said the system if well implemented, could decongest the ports, reduce road traffic on ports access areas and save N140 billion weekly economic loss. According to them, one of the major problems the e-call up would solve is the pre-allocation of trucks to designated parking spaces.
Speaking with Daily Sun via telephone, former member of Presidential Task Force for the Reform of Nigeria Customs and member Presidential Committee on port problems, Lucky Amewiro, said for the system to work, it must be devoid of corruption and must be transparent, efficient and consistent. Despite complaints that the call up system is like a money making machine, Amiwero said NPA should properly organise the system by having holding bay and trailer parks.
“You don’t even need a call up system if our port is efficient. But what happens is that we have factories, industries in our port and you have gridlock on our roads.
“So when you talk about call up system, the advantage of a call up system for a malfunction port like Nigerian ports in Lagos is that if it is well implemented, it will ease vehicles staying on the road, deficiency of bypass, bribery and corruption and it would be able to reduce the numbers of vehicles on the port access roads,” he said.
He noted that the challenges the e-call up system would have is how prepared NPA is to manage the system because it is not about the call up system but how prepared are they organising themselves to call up system.
He said the system is going to face a lot of challenges, such as corruption, favouritism, human interference and all the rest, adding that port efficiency is not to bypass but a procedure, which follows procedural rules.
“If the call up system is not properly manage is going to be worst than what you see today. So it would be better if the call up system is properly handled in terms of first come, first serve. There is need to organise the system properly in order to achieve it main purpose.
“And NPA should sit down and organise themselves very well because the challenge is that if they are not properly handled is going to be worst. But if it is properly handled, the trailer that that supposed to go to the port will going in and come out,” he stated.
He said if the e call up system is not properly handled, it would have interference from transporters, Customs agents and others operating around the ports.
Said he: “It is a big problem. Call up system is not a political thing. It should be done professionally. If it is not properly, many of the trailers on the road will leave. But they cannot leave because is not only NPA and the trailers. Tankers are there too.”
He said if NPA is going to manage the tankers and the trailers, it would be better because most of them are coming to pick their cargoes. He said they must incorporate the tankers into the system to make the road free in order to make the call up system universal.