Ahead of the commencement of the electronic call-up system for trucks scheduled to begin on February 27, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has stated that shipping companies must make provision of empty container holding bays with 65 percent of volumes of cargo they bring in to stem the tide of empty containers laden trucks congesting the port access roads.
Managing Director of NPA, Hadiza Bala, who stated this at a virtual interactive session with maritime correspondents in Lagos, said compliance to the empty container policy would, going forward, be part of the requirements for the annual validation of shipping lines that would be licensed to call Nigerian ports.
“We have directed every shipping company that their container holding bays must be 65 percent of the volume of cargo they bring in. If a shipping company brings 20,000 boxes annually, so the volume of your empty container will be 65 percent of the volumes of cargo you bring in.
“We have made it very clear that part of the annual registration due for the shipping liners is tied to the utilization of empty containers for consignees to drop containers with them. All empty containers must be dropped at shipping companies holding bays and at that point importers and agents will access their deposits,” she said.
The NPA MD expressed satisfaction that the big shipping companies such as Maersk Line have been complying with the directive, maintaining that the agency would not allow vested interests to thwart its effort at resolving the Apapa gridlock.
Noting that arrangements have been put in place to ensure the full deployment of the e-call up system on the scheduled date, Usman disclosed that eight truck parks have been approved for the electronic call-up system.
She said the authority has also empowered officers of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LATSMA) and Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) to impound any truck found parking indiscriminately on the roads in Apapa from February 27.
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“Some of the issues that we have seen over the years is the inability to have designated truck parks, but we now have eight approved truck parks that have signed up to the call-up system. The NPA carried out advertisements for interested private park owners to apply and we have been able to select eight qualified parks,” she said.
Usman said that going forward, trucks must be called upon using the electronic call-up system before it could gain access into the port.
She said, “It would be done transparently on a first-come, first-served basis. Truckers are expected to download the Eto App to sign-up. We have also requested for the operator to have a dashboard in front of port locations where movement of trucks would be displayed for truckers to see their schedule for the day,” she said.
On export cargo, she disclosed that Lilypond would serve as an export processing terminal, where exporters would be required to consolidate their cargo and have room to complete the necessary documentation before moving the cargo into the port.