Countdown to FG’s red card for automotive junks

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Stories by Isaac Anumihe

Ahead of  March 1, 2017, when   all the rickety trucks plying the Apapa-Wharf Road will  go off the road, truck owners are already jittery over the ultimatum, saying the order will make things more difficult for investors in haulage business.

The restriction order is the result of  a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) penultimate week to ban all trucks that cannot meet some standards.

These standards include, light and sign violation, driving without licence and number plate; driving without good tyres or worn-out tyres or spare tyres; driving with shattered windscreen and without specified fire extinguisher.

Others are driving commercial buses without passenger manifest, driving a vehicle with  excessive smoke emission and mechanically-deficient trucks as well as caution sign violation.

For ‘okada’ riders, they must  protect themselves and their passengers  with crash helmet.

Those were part of the measures adopted to reduce or eradicate the carnage occasioned by the preponderance of rickety and mechanically-faulty vehicles plying the Apapa Road.

Other strategies are to construct a holding bay or a garage in Tin Can Port so that any truck with no business being on the road will remain in the holding bay.

Speaking at her first 100 days in office, the Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Ms Hadiza Bala Usman,  assured  that the roads leading to the ports would  receive a facelift. She said that Wharf Road construction and the holding bay have been captured in the 2017 Budget and construction will begin as soon as the budget is signed.

“We also discussed extensively and got our Creek Road and two other roads within Apapa into the 2017 Budget by the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing. The Minister has confirmed that these items will be in 2017 Budget and they will be constructed within that period. In addition, one  of the challenges we have noted in the area is the need for holding  bays and the trailer garages. The Ministry of Power, Works and  Housing has also confirmed that the completion of the  trailer park  in Tin Can area has also been captured in the 2017 Budget. With respect to the reduction in the number of trailers that  are plying that road, I think  some of these trailers are not on their way to anywhere. They are just on the road because they don’t want to park or they don’t have any location to park. One of the things we want to put in place is a situation where a trailer can only be on the road if it is verifiably going to pick up a cargo. If you are not on your way to pick up a cargo you need to be within a holding bay.

The World  Bank initiative has come to us to put in place this electronic system whereby the trailers will remain in the trailer garages and holding bay. We have identified them but this is indeed a wholly private-sector driven initiative whereby the Nigerian Ports Authority and other agencies of government will work on compliance. On compliance, we mean ensuring that every trailer which  is not going to collect a cargo,  is within the holding bay. The holding bays and trailer parks will be operated and run by the private sector” she said. 

However, truck owners operating at the nation’s ports  have decried the Federal Government’s plan to  restrict substandard trucks from entering the ports by March 1.

 Chairman,  Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO), Chief Remi Ogungbemi, has described the process as  a duplication of Vehicle Inspection Officers’ duty and so  will be  difficult for  investors in haulage business to observe.

Ogungbemi also said that although the association is in  support of standards that will ensure safety of cargoes and vehicles going in and out of the ports, there should be improved basic transport infrastructure like parking bay.

“Are they saying that the VIO is no longer competent or they just want to repeat what the VIO is doing? We are not against standards that will ensure safety of trucks and cargoes at the ports. As we speak, trucks are still being parked along the roads leading to our ports. There is need for government to get a place where trucks can be parked for inspection to ascertain if they meet required standards. Parking vehicles on the roads leading to the ports and wanting to examine them there cannot work. Such MOU should also discuss our space challenge. We,  in AMATO have made private arrangements to cushion the challenge of no parking space. We recently secured three places in Kirikiri only for trucks  that have businesses at the port,’’ he said.

He said haulage business operators in the ports are being over tasked with multiple fees and charges in addition to high cost of maintenance of trucks.

On each truck, Ogungbemi said, NPA charges N10,000 while the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC)  charges about N45,000 for speed limiter device including high cost of diesel.

Recall that during  the signing,  Usman had said that the synergy between FRSC and NPA would ensure safety of trucks and cargoes. The goals, according to her,  would hopefully be achieved through the platform of Road Transport Safety Standardisation Scheme (RTSSS) which FRSC launched some years back to create orderliness in trucks and fleet operations.

Usman further stated that NPA launched an enforcement campaign for safety and minimum standards of trucks operating in ports within Lagos area, adding that it was in the effort to further upgrade and improve on the successes recorded that it adopted the FRSC’s Road Transport Safety Standardisation Scheme (RTSSS) .

“It is in view of this that we are gathered here today to synergise with the FRSC by signing this MOU between the Nigerian Ports Authority and the Federal Road Safety Corps,” she stated.

The Managing Director expressed confidence in the successful outcome of the synergy which would become effective from  March 1,  2017 in all the ports locations, saying it would be a lasting solution to the problem of poor state of trucks that have  for long affected smooth clearance of cargo and vehicular traffic at the ports.

She commended the Federal Road Safety Corps, Mr. Boboye Oyeyemi, for his unflinching commitment to the realisation of the initiative and pleaded that the same measure be  extended  to the entire port industry and all stakeholders as outlined in the MoU.

While commending the managing director for the enthusiasm she has shown towards the safety and security of port operators, Oyeyemi noted that her commitment is evidenced by her zeal to get the MOU  between the NPA and the FRSC signed.

He expressed total support for the initiative, describing it as both timely and in line with the vision of safer road environment which the FRSC is pursuing through stakeholders’ collaboration.

Customs agents applaud Shippers’ Council on ICDs, truck parks

The   Nigerian Shippers’ Council, NSC, has been commended for its efforts in promoting the establishment of Inland Container Depots, ICDs, otherwise known as dry ports in the six geo-political zones in the country.

The council was also applauded for the idea of truck parks   which are expected to be built in some parts of major highways in the country.

Speaking on the two projects, customs agents  said  both ICDs and truck parks will facilitate trade in the country.

A frontline customs agent, Chief Chekwas Okoli ,  who spoke to newsmen   during a media briefing in Apapa,  Lagos, said that by promoting  establishment of ICDs, the Council was taking shipping services nearer to the doorsteps of many Nigerians in different parts of the country.

Okoli described ICDs as part of the continuation of the reform process in the ports sector, adding that it will add value to the national economy.

He noted that a good number of the ICD  concessionaires  have  shown some level of seriousness in recent time following the order by the council that they should  show enough commitment  in the dry ports projects or lose their licences.

Okoli said he has observed that some of the concessionaires have started   developing their  ICDs,  adding that in the next few months  some of them would be looking forward for Port of Origin status.

According to him, this will boost the ICDs and create more employment for many professionals and youths in the country.

He also said the ICDs will boost the economies of the states and  communities where they  are  sited.

Another customs agent,  Mr  Ikedi Okwosa, while commending the council for the  ICDs said that when fully functional, it will  end the nightmare of shippers who have over the decades relied on Lagos and other ports for their cargoes meant for different places in the country.

According to Okwosa, the ICDs will end risks and losses that shippers in different parts of the country have faced over the years  transporting their goods from far distances to their final destination. He said that many shippers have had to lose their goods due to accidents or  armed robbery attacks on the way.

He added  that with ICDs, the goods will simply be conveyed  by rail transportation to different parts of the country.

Okwosa  observed that  the  federal government  has been working hard in revitalizing the rail system, stating that this was the only way that  the ICDs can function effectively.

He praised the Minister of Transport, Honourable Rotimi Amaechi, for his efforts in the rail projects, stressing  that  with time,  the country will be fully interconnected with  rail transport.

 The  customs  agents also commended the Council  for the Truck Park project,  stating that they will equally  add value to the economy.

“The idea of setting up the truck parks is wonderful. It will be a place of rest for drivers who have been on the road for hours especially when it is getting   too late. It will check accident as the drive can refreshen, rest and continue their journey”, Okwosa said.

 The Executive Secretary of the Council, Hassan Bello had late last year warned  ICD concessionaries to show more commitment in the  development  of the projects or lose their licences.

Bello who   also said the officials of the Council would be sent out to monitor the progress  on the ICDS, however,  assured  that  those who have met the required standard will be issued with  Port of Origin status.

At a meeting, Bello  said,  “the government has an obligation to bring out consistence policies that will encourage private sectors to perform. The concessionaires too have an obligation. Government is an enabler and will do everything possible to ensure that these projects come on stream but we also need to see some level of work to show some seriousness on the side of the concessionaires.

“The private sector must show some responsibility because now we have in that agreement new time lines and we have to act according to the time lines.

“Anywhere you want us to intervene for you to grow don’t hesitate to tell us but I am telling you now that we also want to see action and if we don’t see action according to the agreement, we will not hesitate at all to cancel any concession.”

 “We are now having a new agreement which we have done with the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC). This agreement is more agreeable, modern and it is in tune with the legal framework of public private partnership and it is easier to accomplish than the previous agreement.

“The previous agreement was done without any regulatory framework. We are going to give every concessionaire copies of the agreement and we expect you to study the agreement and make contributions and inputs so that we can come up in two weeks time because we cannot unilaterally make the agreement without our key parties.” 

Women in ANLCA celebrate valentine with HOG children

By Chinyere Anyanwu

The Hearts of Gold (HOG) Children’s Hospice, Surulere, Lagos, recently, played host to members of Bomarah Foundation and the women’s wing of the Association of Nigerian Customs Licensed Agents (ANCLA) when the groups went to celebrate Valentine with the children of the hospice.

Speaking during the visit, President of Bomarah Foundation, Hajia Bola Muse, said the visit was aimed at sharing the joy of the Valentine day with the special needs children.

She said: “We are here today to celebrate this special season of love with the children. Being here today not only offers us opportunity to show compassion to the children but also to appreciate the goodness of God to us.”

Muse, who commended the founder of the hospice, Mrs. Laja Adedoyin, and her staff for the laudable work being done, said: “We salute her resolute courage and all her staff.”

She enjoined other well-meaning Nigerians and corporate organisations to identify with and support the noble cause being piloted at the hospice.

Reacting to the good gesture to Bomarah Foundation and Women in ANCLA, founder of the hospice,  Adedoyin, appreciated the care and support of the group over the years, saying they have been part of the success story of the hospice. She urged them to keep up the good work of standing with the hospice in all situations.

Items donated to the hospice include mattresses, cartons of noodles, vegetable oil, packs of bottled water, pampers, rolls of tissue paper, among others.   

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