Seaport terminal operators and the Presidential Task Force on Apapa Gridlock are at odds about guidelines for the movement of trucks around Apapa during the lockdown period.
While the task force is considering implementing guidelines that restrict the movement of trucks to certain time of the day, the operators say this will only worsen the gridlock around the area and worsen port congestion.
In a statement signed by its spokesperson, Bolaji Akinola, the Seaport Terminal Operators of Nigeria insisted that the task team’s Vice Chairman, Kayode Opeifa, drew up the guidelines without input from critical stakeholders especially truck operators, terminal operators and shipping companies and without regard for prevailing cargo backlog at the nation’s seaports.
The group said, “The Federal Government deliberately left the ports open so as to continue the flow of essential supplies to Nigerians at this difficult time. But the task team has come up with guidelines that suppress the timely evacuation of cargo at the port.
“Is the task team aware that Apapa is a port city? Why then is Mr Opeifa creating guidelines that restrict the movement of trucks evacuating cargoes at the port? Is this not contrary to the position of the Federal Government that the logistics and supply chain should not be interrupted?”
The association said it rejected “in totality” the guidelines rolled out by the task team, which restricted the movement of trucks evacuating cargo from the port only to a certain time of the day.
According to the group, the ports operate round the clock, hence “cargo evacuation must be done round the clock,” including at night in order to avoid congestion.
STOAN also said that part of the guidelines allowing port-bound trucks to access the Lagos Port Complex Apapa only via the Wharf Road while those being used for other purposes had unrestricted use of all other access roads was “ill-advised.”
“These guidelines stand logic on its head. How do you ask the port trucks not to work at certain times and not to use certain roads? The roads are for port operations,” STOAN said.
The association also asked the Federal Government to mandate the Nigerian Ports Authority to take over traffic management on the port access roads, “so as to clear the chaos created by the task team.”
Responding, Opeifa said the guidelines were only in a draft form sent to stakeholders including terminal operators to make their input.
He told our correspondent that the team had not rolled out the guidelines yet as it was waiting for the input from stakeholders.
According to him, they are not new guidelines but the ones in force before the lockdown.
When presented to the stakeholders, they all assented to it, he said, advising Akinola to consult with the terminal operators and confirm their stand on the guidelines.
He said, “We don’t control truck movement; the NPA does that. The guidelines are a reference to the guidelines on social distancing in line with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and the Federal Ministry of Health’s directive.
“The thing does not affect the truck call up by the NPA; the system is the same.”

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