Business Hilights
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NPA, NSC in joint frantic efforts to halt truckers, agents’ strike as ports activities ground

The height of paralysis at the nation’s major seaports on Monday has forced the leadership of both the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) lead by Hadiza Bala Usman and the Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Hassan Bello to run from pillar to post in effort to persuade striking clearing agents and truckers to call off the industrial action.

Business Hilights recalls that  freight forwarders and truck owners operating at the Lagos port had weeks ago given ultimatum to federal government to repair ports access roads to avoid a total shut down of activities both at seaports and bonded terminals in Lagos from yesterday, Monday.

A statement signed by President, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Prince Olayiwola Shittu at the weekend, said the agents finally resolved to embark on the strike due to what he termed government insensitivity to the continuous killing of port operators owning to the collapsed port access roads.

The striking stakeholders also averred that the government had reneged on its promise to address the issues raised concerning cargo clearance at the port after issuing a 21-day ultimatum and another 21 days extension.

They said “The government reneging on all promises made to port users arising from 21 days ultimatum and another 21 days extension by licensed customs agents and freight forwarders. All practitioners are directed to comply with this directive”.

But having observed total compliance to the strike action yesterday, NPA after a tour of the failed potions of the port access roads volunteered to take over the repairs immediately with assurance that the major dilapidated roads will be fixed as soon as possible.

The key roads frustrating port activities include Wharf Road and Creek Roads and all their tributaries and feeder roads within Apapa and environs.

As at press time, the protesting agents and truckers were having serious meeting to weigh the truth and seriousness of the government regarding the promises of NPA and Shippers Council.

A top official of the striking stakeholders who confided on our correspondent said “For us to have given government and their agencies 21 day two times means that they are likely to renege again”.

“I do not understand why we can use millions of naira to host the whole of Africa in the name of AAMA by NIMASA when all our access roads to ports are in shambles. The whole money used to host that international summit would have been enough to fix at least one of the roads in Apapa, but NIMASA felt otherwise.

“Now, they want us to continue to work under bad roads and we are now saying enough is enough”.

Notice of withdrawal of service sent by the Chairman, Amalgamation of Trucking Associations (ATA), Victor Nnyosum, said the association will also withdraw all trucks and services from the ports from Monday in compliance to the strike action.

They also forwarded same letters to  heads of maritime agencies include the Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA); Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC); General Manager, NPA Western Zone, Area Commandant, Area B Police and Port Police.

The central position of the letters was very clear; “that the joint body resolved to commence withdrawal of service as a result of the deplorable states of the Tin Can and Apapa roads, which he said have been responsible for damage to trucks, goods and loss of lives”.

In a statement, NPA’s managing director, Usman revealed that the agency is at the verge of getting approval from the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, the parent Ministry towards the funding of the project concerning the Wharf Road, Creek Road, Tin Can Island Access Road, Cocoanut, Roads leading to Mile 2 and the Oshodi/Oworonshoki Expressway to the tune of N4.3 billion through a synergy and partnership with Messrs Dangote Group who would collaborate with NPA Management to the tune of N2.5 billion as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) while the NPA would provide the remaining sum of N1.8 billion.

According to her, “we are reengineering the roads for business to thrive; we just need to get it done. This is critical to us”. In the main time, the MD said immediate palliatives would be carried out on the roads whilst the main project of reconstructing the roads would follow accordingly. The NPA helmsperson said the construction would cover a length of 12 metres with full utilities in the area of drainage for a life span of 30 years pointing out that the construction would last for 10 months. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) would be signed by all parties within a forth night for construction to commence thereafter, she added.

In addition, Hadiza Usman reaffirmed the Management’s immediate plans of having a holding bay to aid efficient service delivery at Western Ports as would be prioritized through the window of the principles and tenant of Public Private Partnership (PPP). This she said would be facilitated the call-up system where trucks that comply with laid down rules and regulations are made to do business within the Port.

Furthermore, she informed Stakeholders that the issues were already before the Presidential Group on the ease of doing business within the nation headed by the Vice President, Professor YemiOsinbajo (SAN) in efforts to utilize all holistic approaches in order that we get this over with, she added.

She appreciated the efforts and contributions of Stakeholders at ensuring that the NPA Management delivers on its mandate of making sure it transformed the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) into a “model agency” – a desire it had pursued most vigorously since inception.

On the Management team of the NPA were the Executive Director Engineering and Technical Services, Prof. Idris Abubakar, the General Managers Health, Safety and Environment, Engr. Ahmed Yusuf, Western Ports, Arch. Abiodun Gbadamosi, Capital Project, Engr. Peter Obinomen as well as the House of Representative for Apapa Federal Constituency and Member House Committee on Ports and Harbours, Ayodeji Joseph. Stakeholders also were on hand to appreciate the activity to unfold.

However, if the meeting of the striking groups fails to reach compromise, the meaning is that the strike action will enter day two today, Tuesday.