No fewer than 3,000 containers are said to be trapped inside the Lagos Port Complex Apapa as a result of the lockdown created by a new policy introduced by the Nigerian Ports Authority on the return of containers to the port.
According to a port official who declined to identify himself , trouble started when the NPA management at the port decided to take over the control of traffic in and out of the port area from the Nigerian Navy.
A truck driver , who identified himself as Sulaiman Adeoye, confirmed that the new policy led the truck drivers to down tools on Tuesday and Wednesday in protest .
He said , “They ( NPA) just suddenly came on Monday and said that all trucks must first go to a shipping company’s loading bay from where they are to be called into the port.
Unfortunately , this is contrary to the arrangement being implemented by the Nigerian Navy, which has worked very well and has eliminated the Apapa gridlock .
“The new NPA arrangement forces all trucks to go to the loading bay but there is no modality for how they are to come into the port from there . The new arrangement has led to chaos in the port and cargoes are trapped even as trucks are trapped at the loading bay . This action just does not make any common sense . ”
The Chairman , Association of Maritime Truck Owners , Remi Ogungbemi, who also confirmed the development to journalists in Lagos , stated that the truckers were agitated by the new policy because , “it is still alien .”
According to him , the new directive is not going down well with the truckers because they are at the receiving end of the policy .
He said , “The NPA is saying that the terminal operators should give them the list of containers they want to load and number of trucks they are expected to load the previous day before they start coming the next day . But this does not go down well with the truckers, because they are confined to a situation whereby some people stay on the road for days . So , that is what is generating the issue .”
Responding , the Assistant General Manager , Corporate and Strategic Communications , NPA, Isah Suwaid , who spoke on behalf of the General Manager , Mr . Abdullahi Goje , explained that the NPA was in charge of movement in and out of the port.
He noted that the duty was entrusted temporarily to the Navy at a time when the traffic situation at the port was very bad and there was a need for traffic control , adding that the NPA decided to resume the call -up system following the return of sanity to the traffic situation.
According to him , the stakeholders were informed of the decision to resume the call -up system by the NPA.
He pleaded for calm , saying that the authority was already liaising with the terminal operators to provide easy exit for the containers inside the ports.