Agitated freight forwarders are currently spoiling for a war with the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) over what they call the failed call-up system of the agency.
The freight forwarders, who congregated under a common platform, observed that the collapse of the call-up system introduced by the NPA to sanitise and streamline truck access to the port has thrown up huge operational challenges that are threatening to muzzle them out of business.
Alhaji Tanko Ibrahim, Vice-President Western Zone of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), who rallied the freight forwarders in other sister associations, said terminal operators, shipping companies and the presidential task team on Apapa traffic gridlock, have all cashed in on the chaos that results from the failed call-up system to subject freight forwarders to unwarranted extortion and harassment.
Alhaji Ibrahim disclosed that as a result of the challenges, the freight forwarders have written to the NPA authority to convene a meeting of relevant stakeholders to address the problems.
“The NPA call-up system has collapsed due to the failure of the shipping companies to adhere to the NPA directive to have holding bays.
“Also, the terminal operators, especially the APMT which takes in the highest number of trucks, lacks adequate cargo handling equipment which makes trucks cleared to access the terminal get stranded at the gate, thereby causing long queues on the access roads,” Ibrahim declared.
He said the development has now created traffic nightmare on the port access roads which has thrown up lots of challenges.
“As a result of this, the presidential task team has cashed in on the situation to subject truckers to mindless extortion.
“They now demand the sum of N200,000 per truck before they are given access into the port.
They humiliate, molest and harass truck drivers in the course of perpetrating this illegality.
“Consequently, these truckers build in these unreceipted charges to the cost of evacuating our containers out of the ports.
“For instance, to transport a 40ft container from Apapa to ASPANDA on Badagry road, they charge N700,000 instead of initial N50,000-N80,000 cost,” the vice-president lamented.
He further disclosed that as a result of the gridlock, the shipping companies slam on them huge and unwarranted demurrage charges, while their containers were most times mutilated or returned.
“In addition, the freight forwarders complained that their Terminal Delivery Order (TDO) issued by the shipping companies usually expired as truck drivers are perpetually entangled in the traffic mayhem.
“We are therefore giving the NPA a 21-day ultimatum from the day they received the letter, to convene this crucial summit or be prepared to face massive strike action by the freight forwarders,” Tanko declared.