Distance, Multiplicity Of Regulatory Agencies Impeding Ports Operations In Nigeria – Okaga
By Obiabin Onukwugha
The Port Manager, Lagos Port Complex Apapa, Charles Okaga, has identified distance of Nigerian Ports from the sea and multiplicity of regulatory agencies, as part of the challenges hampering efficient ports operations in Nigeria.
Okaga also identified examination of cargoes by the customs due to lack of scanners and poor access roads as other challenges hampering efficiency at the ports.
Okaga, further lamented the activities of unscrupulous elements who recently hacked into the electronic call-up system for trucks using the port. He said the hacking of the e-call up system, also known as eto, contributed to the challenges of managing traffic congestion on the port corridor in 2023.
The Lagos Ports Manager spoke with newsmen in Lagos, while giving a review of the outgoing year.
He said: “Most of our ports are river ports so the distance between the sea and the port is so long that the cost of bringing vessels would always be higher than a port that is situated near the sea. We also have multiplicity of regulatory agencies doing almost the same work.
“These are some of the things that have impacts and effects. We also have infrastructural deficits. For instance, we don’t have sufficient scanners, no fixed scanner in any of our ports. Funding is also another issue. All these infrastructural gaps will require a lot of funding to be able to bring our ports to international standards and best practices.”
He pointed out that the agency had outsourced the entire quay of the port to an engineering company to carry out integrity test to know the extent of corrosion, erosion so as to provide engineering solutions.
“The port is not generally dilapidated. It is just around berth 6 and 7 that you have the quay structure failing because of underwater erosion. So, what the Nigerian Ports Authority is doing at the time is that we have outsourced an important engineering underwater company to carry out integrity test of the entire quay wall because this is a condition that is precedent.
“So, it is after the integrity test is carried out and concluded that we would know the extent of corrosion, erosion and then engineering solutions will be proffered to those areas where you have the issues. Also, one of the matters that was on ground was the issue of the dilapidated state of some portion of port common user facilities which by the grace of God has since be awarded and the job is about 80 percent completed. So if you go to that particular stretch of road which is 1.6 kilometers, from the roundabout to the control tower, I can assure you that you will see that a lot has been done and since then, we have had improved productivity and a drastic reduction in incidents associated with failed portions of the road within the port,” he said.
He continued: “Generally, the introduction of Information and Communication Technology came with several challenges even before its introduction into port operations. Like the yahoo mail which can be hacked, the electronic traffic management initiative also came with solutions but was hacked by unscrupulous elements who started to mass-produce fake number plates and fake minimum safety standards stickers.
“These items are uploaded into the eto platform and when they use these fake numbers to get tickets for call-ups, they sell to people who are outside of the electronic platform arrangement who in turn come to the port because the ticket gives them access to the port. Meanwhile, the electronic platform is arranged in such a way that it has some dedicated parks where trucks are supposed to emanate from unto another group of pre-gate facilities where trucks are supposed to eventually enter into the port. So, these enemies of our country and port productivity get these tickets and move trucks into the system.
“This disrupts the overall arrangement and leads to gridlocks but since the discovery of large cache of these numbers by the management, we have witnessed a fairly improved traffic situation and the gridlock has drastically reduced. A lot of these people also approach the port access road without any form of call-up. They just park, waiting for businesses, so all of these happen and we are trying our best to mitigate the incidents.”