The Nigeria Customs Service has blamed the recently introduced electronic call-up system by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) as the major cause of traffic gridlocks in Apapa, Lagos axis.
While denying the allegations that the NCS was impeding the free flow of traffic by intercepting cargoes at night, the National Public Relations Officer of the service, Timi Bomodi, laid the blamed at the doorstep of NPA. Some security agencies around the port access roads were also not absolved of the blames as co-contributors to the gridlock.
The Presidential Standing Task Team had raised the alarm over activities of Customs Police allegedly coming to the port access road at night to impound already cleared containers from the seaports.
In his reaction to this, Bomodi said that the service would investigate the allegation to know if they were true.
“They don’t have any way of verifying it, but we are going to verify it. If it is true, we are going to look at the reason why they are doing that. But if they are talking about congestion on the access roads to the ports, I think the biggest challenge is what they do – both the electronic call-up system by the NPA and other security agencies that are there. These have been the standard complaints.”
He also emphasized that the team should focus more on the major cause of the issue.
“And for many months, we have not heard them raise so much of an issue on this very important part. We are not saying that we are downplaying their comments or their allegations. We are going to find out if their complaints are true of not. If they are true, we will let you know; if they are not true we will take action. But that is not the main problem of that road and we believe they should pay more attention on the main issue with that road.”
The General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications, NPA, Ibrahim Nasiru, denied the allegation, saying that it was untrue.
“We don’t want to join issues with the sister agency. All of us know that over time, there has been gridlock on that axis, and the government came in with the intervention of NPA, Flour Mills and Dangote. They came on board and fixed the roads into the ports. Before the emergence of the electronic call-up system and many stakeholders have agreed, many of them would agree that ‘Eto’ has helped tremendously to reduce the gridlock on that axis; that is the testimony. So, it is not true for anybody to say that the electronic call-up system is causing traffic.”
Nasiru emphatically stated that it is just a figment of the imagination of people and that the ‘Eto’ has helped tremendously. “If you can remember, before now, people were paying as high as N1.5m to bring in a container, but when the electronic call-up system came on board, people started paying as low as N100, 000 to take their cargoes out of the port. So, tell me, from this analysis, do you agree that the platform is causing traffic? If there is traffic, the price of taking cargoes out of the port would not have dropped,” he said.