By Chiazo Ogbolu
The Council of Maritime Transport Union and Association (COMTUA) says the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) E-call-up system popularly called ‘Eto’ should be unbundled, to help curb extortion at the port corridor.
The outgoing President of the association, Mr Thompson Olaleye, made the assertion on Thursday during the maiden edition of the 2021 Delegate Convention of COMTUA, in Lagos.
The convention had the theme,”Resolving the Challenges of Cargoes and Haulage Movements in Nigeria for Effective Domestication of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) and Promoting the Ease of Doing Business in the Continent”.
He noted that breaking the monopoly had to do with ensuring that other companies participate in the call up system so that there would be more options for truckers.
“The issue of extortion along the ports access roads is a major reason why the NPA E-call-up system needs to be unbundled.
“It seems the entire space is too big for the E-call-up manager, the Truck Transit Parks (TTP ) to manage.
“If another company is allowed to handle Tin-Can while TTP focuses on Apapa, the issue of extortion and other discrepancies won’t exist.
“If there is competition, the managers of the TTP will deliver in a better way,” he said.
Olaleye claimed that from Mile 2 down to Tin-Can, there was nothing like a central control system where anybody was checking truckers documents or papers.
He said that what one could see were illegal checkpoints mounted by some associations that had pulled out of the COMTUA and were collecting different monies from port users.
“If Eto is unbundled, there will be competition. The traffic managers will perform more effectively.
“Currently, the entire port area seems to be too big for just one company to handle,” he said.
On the recent pulling out of two of its founding members, Olaleye alleged that it was due to disagreement over collection of money on the port access road.
“It was agreed that no member should collect money on the port access road due to the menace it causes but they refused.
“After fruitless efforts to make them see reason, they have left COMTUA and as I speak to you, their members are on the roads between Mile 2 and Tin-Can, collecting money from truckers,” he said.
He, however, added that three new associations had joined COMTUA, Logistics Practioners Association of Nigeria (LPAN), Young Truck Owners Association and the entire corporate bodies of truckers which include Dangote, BUA, Flourmills amongst others.
Also speaking, Prof. Samuel Odewumi, professor of Transport and Logistics, School of Transport and Logistics, Lagos State University backed the call that Eto should be unbundled.
“There is need to break the monopoly of Eto, let them have two or three so that the truckers will have options of which of them to approach, so as to increase capacity.
“Extortion is high at the TinCan Apapa road and nobody is doing anything, it is one of the worst practices that is going on and so government should show political will in ending it.
“I hate to believe that the problem is not solvable,” he said.
Odewunmi said that there was need to solve the logistics problems in the country so that Nigeria could get the benefits of AfCFTA.
He noted that in solving the challenges of cargo and haulage movement in the country, there was need for more investment and public, private partnership.
The professor said that maintenance culture should also be imbibed, and enforcement of laws should be heightened.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the association had an election where new officers emerged.
Mr Adeyinka Aroyewun emerged as the new President of COMTUA; Prof. Tajudeen Baruwa, Co-chairman, Board of Trustee; and Chief Ekene Ikeji, BOT Secretary.
Others are: National Secretary – Chief Victor Nnodim; Organising Secretary – Collins Dike; Vice-President (Finance) – Mrs Folake Soji-George; Vice-President (Special duty) – Amb. Chris Eseni.
Also elected are: Treasurer -Comrade Musa Sulaiman; Financial Secretary – Yakubu Kolawole; Welfare Officer – Yenny Ademola; PRO – Richard Eze; and Provost – Gbade Amodu.