The Council of Maritime Transport Union and Association (COMTUA) have called for the unbundling of the Nigerian Ports Authority’s (NPA), Electronic call-up system popularly known as Eto for greater efficiency and to end extortion on the port access road.
The President of the association, Mr. Thompson Olaleye, while speaking in Lagos during the maiden edition of the 2021 Delegate Convention of the association recently said if another company is empowered to handle the Tin-Can Island corridor of the port access road, the challenge of extortion and other issues undermining the efficiency of the e-call-up system will be addressed.
The association president said the two members of the group that pulled out did that because the association stopped them from extorting truck owners and drivers.
He said, “Two of the initial founding members of COMTUA have pulled out over selfish decisions. These two groups decided to leave COMTUA because we agreed that no association should be collecting money along the ports access roads again.
“The aggrieved groups, the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) and the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) rejected our decision to stop the collection of money along the ports access roads. They said it is a major means through which they get revenue to fund their operations.
“After fruitless efforts to make them see reasons, 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.
“However, three new associations have joined COMTUA. 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 TTP to manage so, If another company is allowed to handle Tin-Can Island while TTP focuses on Apapa, the issue of extortion and other discrepancies won’t exist anymore,” he said.
“If there is competition, the managers of the TTP will deliver in a better way. Imagine, from Mile 2 down to Tin-Can, there is nothing like a central control system where anybody is checking truckers’ documents or papers. Rather, what you will see are illegal checkpoints mounted by some associations that have pulled out of the COMTUA, collecting money from port users.
“If Eto is unbundled, there will be competition. The traffic managers will perform more effectively. Currently, the entire port area seem to be too big for just one company to handle.”
Also speaking during the 2021 COMTUA Delegate Convention, a Professor of transport and environment, Professor Odewumi Samuel backed the call for the unbundling of Eto.
In the words of the former Dean, School of Transport of the Lagos State University, “NPA needs to break the monopoly of eto, let them have two or three service providers so that the truckers will have options of which of them to approach, so as to increase capacity.
“Extortion is walking naked with high heels on Tin Can- Apapa road and nobody is doing anything about it. Extortion is one of the worst practices that is going on and government is not doing anything about it, government has shown no political will in ending it and I hate to believe that the problem is not solvable, it is because those who are benefiting are more powerful and the problem of corruption is a self-feeding thing once you allow it to feed, it will get big and strong and you will find it difficult to break.
“There are powerful interest that want the extortion to continue, they are wasting an elephant just because they want to eat rice, what they think they are benefiting is so small compare to what the nation is loosing. The nation that cannot export how can you generate employment for your people, look at the numbers of empty containers in the port that cannot take anything out,” he lamented.
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