By Uche Usim
In line with its determination to promote safety around the sea terminals, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has certified 11,000 trucks for haulage business.
The General Manager, Western Ports of NPA, Michael Ajayi stated this while receiving members of the Association of Maritime Journalists of Nigeria (AMJON) in his office in Apapa, Lagos.
According to him, the era of rickety trucks constituting nuisance at the ports is over, even as he assured that the rule on truck standardization will be continually enforced.
Ajayi said access control mechanisms have been installed to ensure that only certified trucks are allowed access into the ports.
“Aside the access control, we’re building a database for them. The NPA management is taking the issue of public safety very seriously. In the past and from the agents side, we’ve had cases of truckers escaping with the consignment. There was no protection for the cargo owner. When we checked, it was discovered the plate number on the truck was that of a motorcycle. If you go to the Police, you’ll see many of such cases. But now, these certified trucks are fully registered and certified okay for haulage. They meet international standards. We’re still registering more trucks. If you don’t register, you can’t operate at the ports”, he explained.
On why some truck owners have blatantly refused to pay N10,000 annual registration fees, Ajayi said those complaining are doing so ignorantly.
“The money comes to N27 daily or so. Is that a significant charge for registration?”, he queried.
On the poor state of the port access roads, the Western Port General Manager described the state of the roads as a disgrace.
“Yes, the port road is a disgrace. It’s a crisis really. When I resumed here, I had a meeting with FERMA and I discovered that the Agency had zero budget in 2015 and the Ministry of Works had N30bn. But, NPA is making efforts. We’re constrained by several government rules. The road from mile 2 to Apapa is a federal road. Aside that, there are so many interests. On our own, we’ve awarded contract for the maintenance and contractor moving to site once the rains subside. With regards to cleanliness and sanitization, the Apapa LGA is in charge of that. NPA also has responsibilities and also its jurisdiction. Apapa LGA collects taxes and levies and you see refuse everywhere”, he noted.
Ajayi also ssaid there are some bad roads in Apapa that Dangote Group has promised to repair, where there are others stakeholders have jointly agreed to fix.
“We’re going to appeal to Lagos State government to have streetlights fixed. Drainage will be done. We’re appealing to Glo, Water Corporation and those with underground cables for their cooperation.
“The government bureaucracy is also a challenge. For me, I will advice we decentralise the BPP to make it efficient and allow agencies achieve about 70% of their budget. Most MDAs will achieve much. We’ve more than 45 agencies and how can one body supervise all these and ensure budget performance in a year? It’s tough’, he said.