The African Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics of Nigeria (APFFLON), has called for effective multi-modal transport system to aid quick evacuation of cargoes in order to decongest the ports in Lagos.
The National President of the association, Otunba Frank Ogunojemite, who made this call during a chat with newsmen in Lagos, said there was need to complete the upgrade of existing rail lines in Apapa, while making effort to link the Tincan Island Port to the rail.
“We know that the passenger train is up and running now, we should also think of how we can move containers by rail. Look at the traffic situation, these two (road and rail) can be connected with other means of transportation to decongest the port. Government should think about cable transport where people and cargoes can move with ease.
“We need different modes of transportation that will ease the hardship people are faced with on daily basis in evacuating their cargoes from the ports,” he said.
Ogunojemite also called for the immediate completion of the ongoing upgrade of infrastructure at the Lagos seaports.
He recalled that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) delegation, which visited Nigeria in 2019 to assess the Nigerian ports, enumerated some factors affecting the growth and efficiency of the port industry in Nigeria with infrastructure deficit topping the list.
Ogunojemite, while admitting that reconstruction of roads within the ports and upgrade of some critical infrastructure were ongoing, however, hoped that they would be concluded as soon as possible.
The APFFLON boss, while applauding the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) for deploying scanners to some ports across the nation, also called for their immediate commissioning so as to enhance cargo clearing at the ports and reduce corruption in the system.
According to him, “How many containers will an officer examine in a day compared to what a scanner can examine in a day? Customs officers need to be retrained because the way they handle importers and their agents need to be actually addressed.”
On the ongoing review of the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA), Ogunojemite called for the involvement of the freight forwarders and other critical stakeholders to ensure a time tested law for better reforms in the nation’s ports.
He also stressed on the need to address the shipping companies and terminal operators excesses as well as ensuring they observe all the safety measures and standards set for them.
He cited the incident of the freight forwarder who was accidentally killed by a crane recently at KLT terminal, noting that some of the equipment used by terminal operators are obsolete.
“Few days ago, equipment killed one of the freight forwarders at KLT. Is it actually an accident? Is it as a result of obsolete equipment? Is it as a result of negligence? Are the crane operators having proper training? Are they adhering to safety regulations?
“We have to conclude the ongoing review of the port concession agreement by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA). These are the things we needed to work on to make out ports to be efficient and attractive,” he concluded.