Oyetola Promises to Rid Port Access Roads of Extortions, Multiple Checkpoints, Other Illegalities in 1 week

The Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Adegboyega Isiaka Oyetola has promised to eliminate extortions of maritime truck drivers, illegal checkpoints, unapproved parking of trucks along the road among other vices causing traffic gridlock along the port access roads, within one week.

Rising from a stakeholders’ meeting held at the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) headquarters in Lagos with the theme ‘Review of Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for Truck Traffic Management Along the Lagos Port Corridor’, Oyetola assured stakeholders who included leaders of various truck associations, NPA officials, the E-Call up system management team and Lagos State government that the issues would be dispensed with within one week.

The minister, who was represented at the meeting by Professor Busayo Stephen Fakinlede, technical aide to the Hon. Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, told the stakeholders who were mostly from the trucking sub-sector that a committee had been set up to review all the grouses and suggest solutions, saying the issues would be resolved within one week

Speaking at the forum, Oyetola noted: “We can see that all the stakeholders are here to make sure we resolve all these issues and you can see the passionate intention of everyone to see that this problem is solved.

So, we are going home with the singular thing that all of these things will be things of the past.

“We have already set up a committee and all the solutions proffered to the problems will be put together for the committee to review and in a week’s time, some of these issues would be resolved.”

When asked how he intended to sustain the resolutions arrived at the meeting, Oyetola stated that the meeting he was having with stakeholders was a departure from what obtained in the past, saying the people whose businesses were mostly affected are involved in the meeting.

He explained that maritime was germane to the development of the economy, adding that as stakeholders would not want to lose money, so would the government.

“The difference between this and the past ones is that the stakeholders here are parts of the problems, we have the truck owners, terminal owners and the other stakeholders here, it is affecting their businesses and they know the solutions. That is why everybody is here today.

“Talking about maritime, time is money. The stakeholders cannot afford to lose money so also the government does not want to lose money.

“The only way is for them to work together to find solutions and that is what is going to happen in the next couple of weeks because anytime we delay, it affects them. That is why this particular meeting is going to be different from the previous ones.

“The issues that have to do with infrastructure, those ones will take a little time but the solutions start from now and we already taking them one by one,” he exuded with confidence.

Earlier, the Lagos State Government, represented by the Special Adviser to the Governor on Transport, Hon. Sola Giwa reiterated the state had earlier resolved on moving parked trucks out of the roads.

He called on the management of NPA to review its Minimum Safety Standards (MSS) on trucks, saying the scheme was not achieving its purpose because according to him, there were many rickety trucks still plying the port roads.

Giwa added that it was important that the minister sit down with the IG of Police to rid the roads of miscreants and police officers extorting truckers along the corridor.

“There are too many road blocks. NPA security, LASMA are collecting money,” he fumed.

Giwa commended the efforts of the Electronic Call Up System (E-Call up System) managers over the years, saying they had helped a great deal but advised that they should not turn themselves into revenue generators and forget about their core mandate of traffic management.

“E-Call up System is working, don’t scrap it. Your solution is superb, but you must not turn yourself into a revenue generating agency”, he said.

One of the leading trucking groups, Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO) in its position paper, posited that E-Call up System would have been a success, but for interference by government and non-governmental actors, manipulation of the system by owners of NPA approved parks, terminals low productivity, uncontrolled release of Export Processing Terminals (EPTs), among other factors led to increase in traffic along the corridor.

AMATO, therefore, called on the ministry to help address the menace of hoodlums popularly called ‘area boys’ mounting illegal road blocks.

The group added that EPTs should operate in line with the SOP in releasing trucks, deployment of E-tag technology to eliminate theft of E-Call up system identity or bypassing of system’s procedure.