The Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Hadiza Bala-Usman, has expressed conviction that Eto, the electronic truck-call up app recently introduced by the Authority, will solve the perennial traffic congestion problem on the access road to the ports.
Speaking with Editors in Lagos on Thursday, Bala-Usman said although initial hiccups are to be expected in the operations of the app, the opportunity to remove human interference from the process makes the app the “game changer”.
She explained that although there had been various layers of interventions on solving the problem of traffic congestion over the years, “I have always had the idea that removing human intervention in calling up trucks into the ports is key to solving the truck congestion problem.
“An integral part of this is the provision of approved trucks parks. This means that all trucks coming to the ports will park at designated parks and then use an electronic call-up to access the port when their cargoes are ready for pick up.
“So, if you are going into the ports, you must be parked in a truck park. I think sanitising traffic around the ports is about having these trucks parks, otherwise people will park anywhere.
“So, trucks that are not on Eto and are not coming from one of designated truck parks, will not be able to access the ports from the end of this month.
“This process with be transparent and on a first come, first served basis. I am confident that this step, combined with improved rail access in the ports and the use of barges to move cargo will solve this problem.”
Towards ensuring the smooth take-off of this innovation, the Managing Director informed that the NPA has already licenced seven truck parks, even as she called on property owners with space that can accommodate anything from 100 trucks to come forward with proposals.
Bala-Usman explained that the Authority is looking at such facilities anywhere within Lagos and Ogun States.
Apart from calling up trucks, Bala-Usman said the Eto app will also be responsible for the return of empty containers to the ports by shipping companies.
This, according to her, means that cargo owners are not allowed to come to the ports to drop empty containers, which must be taken to the holding bays of shipping companies.
According to her: “With this e-call up, we have made sure that the registration of shipping companies is tied to having empty containers holding bays.
“This is where consignees will drop empty containers henceforth. It is the responsibility of shipping companies to arrange how to transport empty containers to the ports through the Eto.
“We have had push backs from shipping companies in the past, but what we have now is to deny their 2021 registration unless they provide empty container holding bays and log on to Eto. We are happy that they have complied.”
Bala-Usman explained that the NPA is working with the Lagos State Government and the Federal Road Safety Corps to ensure full compliance with Eto operations and that trucks found around the ports without being called to the ports will be impounded.