There seems to be growing controversy among truckers due to the recent protest embarked upon to address the challenges of electronic call-up system codenamed Eto.
While some vowed to keep protesting until the challenges are addressed, others believe that, though there are challenges with the system, it is still early to protest.
Former Chairman of the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria, Tincan Island Chapel, Alhaji Isiaka Oladere, told Financial Street in Lagos that there would be no going back until all their demands were met by those concerned.
According to him, a flatbed without empty container coming with call-up and authority to load is supposed to be allowed into the port any time, any day but regretted that the reverse is the case especially on Mile 2–Tincan axis.
Oladera noted that truck drivers would spend hours at Mile 2 and on getting to auto wharf junction, if they did not know an official there to take them across, such a truck would be turned back.
“I followed the motor by myself. It is not like that in Tincan–Mile 2 axis. Something must be done about that axis as a matter of urgency. The people in government should go there and investigate what I am saying.
“Come to Sunrise here, they barricaded the road and open it any time they want. You cannot go, and if you talk too much, they will start beating the driver,” he explained.
Apapa axis, he added, is more organised and decent than what is obtained at Tincan–Mile 2 axis.
His words, “It is like that in Mile 2–Tincan axis, but not so on Apapa area. If you are coming from Ijora, there are so many beats there; they will check your documents to know whether your e-call up is genuine. If it is genuine alongside your ATL, they will just tell you to go. They don’t demand anything from you; but if you are happy, on your own, you can give them N1,000.
“But it is not like that here (Tincan – Mile 2 axis); with your call-up, you are going to spend up to N100,000 or they will turn your vehicle back. They turned my vehicle back three times.”
He, however, pointed out that the “Eto is a welcomed development” and that they all love it.
“If we are to implement it fully, it is going to help all of us; but the way it is going now, it is fraudulent and this is why we are calling the attention of government,” he added.
Meanwhile, in his reaction, the National Publicity Secretary of the Council of Maritime Truck Unions and Associations, Abdullahi Inuwa, faulted the protest, arguing that the action came too early and unexpected.
For Inuwa, every innovation comes with some teething problems.
“I agree with some of the challenges along Tincan–Mile 2 axis because in my interview with you earlier on the call-up system, I told you how inability of the shipping companies to provide a functional holding bay is contributing to this. If you are carrying empty container, before they will receive it, they will collect huge amount of money.
“Some collect N150,000 while some others will collect N100,000 depending on shipping line before receiving the empty containers. This is something we believe that the Nigerian Shippers’ Council and Nigerian Ports Authority have to come together and make sure that all the shipping companies agree on.
“We have asked all the truckers to go to the various garages. The have complied. We wish that the shipping lines also would comply by having a functional holding bay for receiving their empty containers without asking for money from the truck drivers,” he said.
While disagreeing that Eto is a failure, he maintained that he saw the system as a solution to the problems facing truckers for some years now in Apapa and environs.
“We are in support of the e-call up and I believe, with that system, whenever my truck has gone to load, I will have rest of mind, without waiting to hear bad news. It is unlike in the past when your driver or your manager will give you a call before they enter the port or even when they are inside the port complaining of numerous extortions going on, which most times, if it persisted, they might need your attention at the port. So, I think with the e-call up, I can go and sleep and the driver will also know that he will have easy access to the port in few hours.
“However, from this Mile 2 axis, that is where we want the authorities to focus on because are we talking of the construction company that will barricade the road and come with some group of people and determine when a truck will pass, even when you are with the e-call up?” he submitted.
Get real time update about this post categories directly on your device, subscribe now.