How we restored law and order on Apapa Port roads – Opeifa

Comrade Kayode Opeifa, Executive Vice Chairman, Presidential Task Team

Comrade Kayode Opeifa is the Executive Vice Chairman, Presidential Task Team-Restoration of Law and Order in Apapa. The team was set up by the Federal Government to restore law and order on all port access roads leading to the nation’s seaports in Apapa, Lagos, Nigeria. In this paper, he speaks on the strategies adopted by the Team to tackle the traffic gridlock on the roads

Details of the Presidential Directive issued released on 22nd May 2019

  1. the immediate clearing up of the Apapa gridlock
  2.  The restoration of law and order to Apapa and its environs within 2 weeks.
  3. The immediate removal of all trucks from the bridges and roads within Apapa and all adjoining streets leading into the Apapa axis.
  4. Operators of trucks and tankers have also been directed to vacate the Port Access Roads within the next 72 hours.

Reporting Authority: The Taskforce to report directly to the President

Terms of Reference

  1. The development of an efficient and effective management plan for the entire port area traffic, including the cargo, fuel distribution and business district traffic;
  2. enforcing the permanent removal of all stationary trucks on the highway,
  3. the development of an effective manual truck call-up system, pending the introduction of the electronic truck call-up system.
  4. the implementation of a workable Empty Container Return and Export Container Truck Handling Policy, amongst others. 
  5. Removal of all prospect of extortion

Members of the taskforce include:

  1. Mr. Kayode Opeifa, former Commissioner of Transport in Lagos State, as the Executive Vice Chairman;
  2. Representative of
  3. the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC);
  4. the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA);
  5. the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC). 
  6. a special unit of the Nigeria Police Force led by a Commissioner of Police,  CP Hakeem Odumosu,
  7. the Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC,
  8. representatives of the Truck Transport Union,
  9. the Lagos State Government through the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) and other relevant MDAs. 

Further Directive to MDAs

  1. The Nigerian Navy and all other military formations have also been mandated to withdraw from traffic management duties in and around the Apapa axis, while military and paramilitary checkpoints in front of the ports and environs are to be dismantled. 
  2. LASTMA has been authorised to move into Apapa as the lead traffic management agency.
  3.  the NPA is to commence the immediate use of the Lilypond Terminal and Trailer Park A as a truck transit park.
  4. further mandates compliance by all security personnel and MDAs.
  5. heads of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Nigeria Customs Service, Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, and all other security operatives are to ensure their officers’ adherence to the new directives. 
  6. The directive mandates the:
  1. Immediate removal of all trucks from the bridges and roads within Apapa and all adjoining streets leading into the Apapa axis.
  2. The development of an efficient and effective management plan for the entire port area traffic, including the cargo, fuel distribution and business district traffic;
  3. Enforcing the permanent removal of all stationary trucks on the highway,
  4. The development of an effective manual truck call-up system, pending the introduction of the electronic truck call-up system.
  5. The implementation of a workable Empty Container Return and Export Container Truck Handling Policy, amongst others. 
  6. Remove extortionist and illegal traffic control groups around Port operations
  7. And to facilitate all above, the directive also mandates:
  1. Operators of Trucks and Tankers to vacate the Port Access Roads within the next 72 hours.
  2. The Nigerian Navy and all other military formations to withdraw from traffic management duties in and around the Apapa axis.
  3. Military and paramilitary checkpoints in front of the ports and environs are to be dismantled. 
  4. LASTMA authorised to move into Apapa as the lead traffic management agency.
  5. NPA to commence the immediate use of the Lilypond Terminal and Trailer Park A as a truck transit park.

The directive further mandates compliance by all security personnel and MDAs, while heads of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Nigeria Customs Service, Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, and all other security operatives are to ensure their officers’ adherence to the new directives. 

  Immediately the directive was issued, the EVC and CP Hakeem Odumosu, in execution of the directive, proceeded to Lagos and within 24 hours held meetings with: The Nigerian Ports Authority (MD and ED Marine and Operations), The Commissioner of Police Lagos State, The Nigerian Shippers Council (Executive Secretary and the Management team), The Commandant, Nigerian Navy, and Western Naval Command, Lagos

The Task Team held its first meeting on May 23, 2019 and co-opted more members for more stakeholders’ inclusion. Series of Stakeholders meetings were held with:  Terminal Operators, Truckers, NPA Staff, Nigerian Shippers Council, Customs License agents, Freight Forwarders, Residents, Transporters and Many others, One on One etc. And finally an all inclusive one at LPC hall with all stakeholders present.

The Standard Operating Procedures was adopted

Incorporating

  1. Traffic Management and Enforcement Direction and Strategy
  2. Team Management Principles and system
  3. An initial call up system
  4. Progress Report on the Presidential Mandate
    1. The Nigerian Navy and all other military formations mandated to withdraw from traffic management duties in and around the Apapa axis.
    1. While the leadership of the Naval command has complied, Isolated cases of illegal operations by Naval personnel/alleged to be Naval personnel still being reported mostly at night and also around Kirikiri lighter terminal.
    1. Military and paramilitary checkpoints in front of the ports and environs are to be dismantled. While there were no longer any visible Military operations except on Kirikiri rd area of Kirikiri Lighter terminal managing traffic to Navy Satellite Town, the Nigerian Custom Services (NCS) and Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON) still maintain Check points along Wharf Rd especially opposite Area B Police Command.
    1. LASTMA authorised to move into Apapa as the lead traffic management agency.
    1. Though LASTMA had moved in and also encouraged by an Executive Order by His Excellency, Mr. BabaJide Sanwoolu, the Police team led by CP Odumosu remained the main traffic management and enforcement team. LASTMA undergoing repositioning. The Presidential Task Team is working with the LASG on Traffic Management and LASTMA eventual full control of Traffic Management activities.

Progress Report on the Presidential Mandate

NPA to commence the immediate use of the Lilypond Terminal and Trailer Park A as               a Truck Transit park

Effective and Efficient management of the Park is CRITICAL to the SUSTAINANCE of the Restored Law and Order as well as the implementation of an effective and efficient Traffic management plan for the Maritime and logistics corridor as directed by the Presidential directive.

NPA commenced the use of Lilypond as a Truck terminal though with infrastructure challenges (access roads, de-flooding and security lightning), management capacity, inadequate staffing and security.

To accelerate compliance despite the inadequacies, the PTT worked with NPA, to reorganize the LTTP to manage Call ups from the 33+ identified Nominated Truck Parks (NTP). The operation combined with the deployed Traffic Management Systems was critical to the permanent removal of Trucks from the roads and the Restoration of Law and Order.

The situation was maintained with truck staging-time ranging from 0 to 6 days for Empty containers and Export; and 0 to 3 days for Flatbeds until about the end of the month of September when the operations at Lilypond was left to the NPA personnel only upon pressure in the name of Port operations. Agreed procedures as unanimously agreed on July 20th became compromised with more trucks called in than can be handled by the general purpose Terminal (APMT); releases compromised and staging-time in the Park extended to as much an unacceptable 7 to 21 days.

The situation degenerated to sponsored protests aimed at discrediting the entire restoration operations but was resisted as the PTT ensured it does not affect its focus as contained in its terms of reference of keeping trucks off the bridge. To ease the Pressure NPA Lilypond managers worked extra hard to decongest the park until on the 24th of October when hoodlums resisting restoration clean ups by the Lagos state Taskforce on Environmental and Miscellaneous Offences attacked the transit park. The LTTP is yet to recover from the effect of that attack. It is currently operating at just about 5% of its capacity.

There is URGENT need to get Lilypond operations to its Pre October 11th status.

The Terms of References

  1. Restoration of Law and Order

The Apapa Wharf, Lagos Badagry-Iganmu and the Ijora axis has been fully restored. Though the Mile 2 to Port gate was also restored, the ongoing massive construction, the delayed cleanup and takeover of Kirikiri Park, Parks B, C and D activities opposite Tin Can Port gates remained outstanding. The LASG is set to address the clean up issues.

 Recent upsurge of Tankers to load PMS at PPMC appointed depot around Apapa depot (marine beach and Sunrise area) arising from the closure by DPR/LASG of some Tank Farms in Ijegun/Satelite axis of Lagos state has raised new challenges. Discussion involving top management of NNPC/PPMC (GMD NNPC, COO Downstream NNPC, National leadership of PTD/NUPENG with the LASG and the PTT EVC resulting in the reopening of the closed tank farms hand cooperation from Tanker unions as so far yielded some calmness.

  • Enforcing the permanent removal of all stationary trucks on the highway

 Working with NPA management, NSC, PTD/NUPENG, COMTUA, the Thirty Three plus (33+) Nominated Truck Parks, availability of Lilypond Terminal as a Truck Park,  development and deployment of a special purpose deployed traffic management plan and direction based on STRICT enforcement regime and protocols, and effective stakeholders’ engagement, the Task Team has achieved tremendous successes of keeping stationary trucks off the highways especially on the Ikorodu road, inner streets of Surulere, Apongbon bridge, Eric Moore area and Eko Bridge up to Ijora 7up and Ijora Olopa ends. Same for Orile/Iganmu end to Mile 2 end of Lagos Badagry Expess Way as of 30th of May, 2019.

 We have consistently kept stationary trucks off the above mentioned highways. Same for Marine bridge up to Point road except trucks on queue from LTTP as a result of Port operations especially as it relates to the capacity of APM Terminal at Apapa Port to handle Empty Container Return and other deliveries. We however maintained a steady flow and a free corridor for other road users and moving trucks as recently as October 22; as a result of the collapse of LTTP operations on October 24th, 2019.

On the Apapa Oshodi Tin Can Axis, even though the Task Team have recorded tremendous progress from Cele to Mile 2, and Coconut to Tin Can Port gate, much work is still required between Mile 2 and Coconut where we have Trucks and Tankers struggling for space as they approach the Tin Can Transit Truck Park and the Tank farms respectively as a result of failed and non functional roads needing palliatives. The recently ordered palliative works by the HM FMWH after the November 16th meeting will suffice for some time.

Effective and Efficient Port Terminal Operations, NPA proper management of the TITP, cooperation from other major stakeholders, further understanding and cooperation of the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing and the contractor handling the road reconstruction works are critical. The good news is that the One-way drive activities has stopped and despite all the issues It now takes less than 24hr from Mile 2 to the Port gate as against weeks with huge consequences. Access for residents along the Vanguard Newspaper and NIMASA office remain a challenge due to the above and the operations of the Kirikiri light terminal used by barge operators. The PTT is however maintaining an acceptable balance.

 The PTT has also been able to extract an understanding from the leadership of PTD/NUPENG to restrict tanker drivers’ movement approach into Apapa to between 10.30am to 5pm with assurance that there will be access into the Tank farms holding bay within 2 hours of approach to Apapa. Compliance level is still very low as Tankers still show up as early as 6am, especially Tankers of NNPC Retail, those for Major oil marketers, AITEO and NIPCO Fuel depots.

  • Remove extortionist and illegal traffic control groups around Port operations

 This has been greatly achieved and remained one of the greatest take home to most stakeholders especially the freight forwarders, truckers and the system until recently when the none operation of Lilypond, failed call up system.

Efficiency level at some of the terminals, coupled with the end of year pressure on freight forwarders to return empty containers and receive cargo from the Port.

Prior to the Task Team inauguration, Stakeholders have informed of regularly parting away with as much as N65,000 to N120,000 per truck access even though it will still take about 2 to 4 weeks to access the Port. The truth of the matter is that all stakeholders MUST ensure Lilypond gets back to operations.

The bad news is gradually creeping back? We believe it’s a Corruption Fight Back.

To Defeat, Lily Pond and the Call up System must Work

Development of an efficient and effective Traffic management plan for the entire port area traffic (including the cargo, fuel distribution and business district traffic)

Done, deployed and working fine

Traffic Management Direction currently deployed is as contained in the Presidential Task Team released Operational Order, Guidelines and Modus Operandi (with July 20 modification). It incorporates, Port Operations, Incident rescue management, Truck Park Management and special purpose Apapa Port Area Traffic Management with STRICT enforcement protocols.

For ease of operations and as agreed by all stakeholders, its efficiency is largely hinged on the cooperation of ALL MAJOR stakeholders (NPA, Manufacturing concerns, Shipping Lines, Terminal Operators, Tank Farms and PPMC) and the understanding/engagement of other stakeholders who are clients to the Major stakeholders with robust capacity to use enforcement and sanctions where any stakeholder fails compliance as we currently have.

The Port management is expected to brief its direct and indirect clients on the new rules of engagement via a stakeholders meeting and a Publication in at least one National newspaper.

Development of an efficient and effective Traffic management plan for the entire port area traffic (including the cargo, fuel distribution and business district traffic)

Done, deployed and working fine

The current, operating system backed by appropriate enforcement has the capacity to clean up any congestion within 2 to 6 hours with the cooperation of major stakeholders especially NPA, PPMC, Truckers group, PTD supported by an effective incidence and recovery management system.

 The most critical issues are:

  1.  Efficiency of Port operations
  2. Incidence and rescue/recovery management capacity
  3. And adequate security for traffic managers.

Development of an effective manual truck call-up system pending the introduction of the electronic truck call-up system

With NPA draft Standard Operating Procedure for a comprehensive system incorporating a Manual Call-Up system with its Empty Container Handling Policy, Terminal operators TDO/ATL systems and the Deployed traffic management system as the working documents, working with NPA and all other relevant stakeholders, a verifiable, simple and robust, transparent and efficient system which has the confidence of the Port users was developed and implemented from July till sometime in early October.

Though manual, it was based on an electronic system philosophy.

Simply, the system

  1. Starts from the Terminal Operators
  2.  To NPA who in accordance with the request Calls for deployment from Lilypond Truck Terminal based on First in First call (FiFc).
  3.  Lilypond itself is fed directly from the approved Nominated Truck Parks (NTP), Shippers Holding Bay’s and or directly as may be authorized by NPA for empties and cargo receipts.
  4. For others with dedicated terminals, it is based on allotted time and terminal availability
  5. The implementation of a workable Empty Container Return and Export Container Truck Handling Policy.
  6. As with above, the PTT worked with NPA to review and streamline the document with existing realities and global best practices. We await NPA management approval and release of the reviewed document for deployment as this is basically a Port operation BUT with national interest. In fact it is one of the main issues at the heart of the current situation.
  7. The contending issues are:
  8. Who drops the container at the Port? The Shipping Company or the importer.
  9. What is the role of shipping line in holding bay?
  10. Who bears the cost of handling?
  11. When is demurrage terminated? (Nominated Park, Transit Park, NPA gate/Terminal or approach to Shipping company)
  12.  Answers to the above questions and the government position will be critical in concluding the ECRH policy as the rush to return Empty containers are tied to the resolution of grey areas around the questions.
  13. Currently, the Importer is bearing demurrage until EC is returned at the Port, He also pays all handling charges while the Shipping companies also bears related cost of maintaining an holding bay.
  14. NPA and the Shippers Council will brief further on this at a later date

Corruption Fight Back, Port Activities and the Road Shared Assets

The Task Team has noticed the existence of interested parties entrenched in the day to day activities at the Port and benefiting from the ugly congestion activities of the past in disguise as stakeholders (unions, CSO, association) and also critical stakeholders with comparative advantage over others, working against the restoration of Law and Order in Apapa.

The resolution of the gridlock, which affects the nefarious activities of these individuals and groups have led to series of media assault on the Task Team. Prominent among these are individuals and groups “fronts” for some of these Corruption-Fight-Backs before the system in disguise, making misguided press statements in the name of groups. CSO or committees working for truckers and or freight forwarders

Their activities need to be investigated.

Others are a class of people called “MOVERS” who claimed to be Truck owners but are mere agents working for truck owners within the Port operations space to facilitate movement of trucks for truckers. They work for a fee to secure truck movement papers and beat Port Access controls working with insiders. The “Movers” are the faces behind the scrapped “officially” backed priority, unhindered access papers issued to transporters in the guise of shipping companies.

There are also the licensed agents who are just determined to short-change the system in the name of competition and always ready to part with some amount at the slightest opportunity.

The last are the insiders within government institutions and agencies and stakeholders hiding behind agency and corporate institutional authority to work against any reform or resolution from within.

The cooperation of ALL MDAs and Stakeholders is solicited.

All four groups and few others are working in synergy and within the system to undermine government and stakeholders’ effort.

Government and ALL major stakeholders must take tough decision to preserve the successes of the current effort pending the deployment of other more enduring solutions as currently on going (Rail Projects, Deep sea Ports, Dry/Inland Sea Ports,  PEBEC-Ease of doing business reforms, introduction of Electronic call up systems, efficient and effective 24hr operation of Lilypond and Tin Can Island Truck Transit Parks, introduction of Single Window System, Introduction of Electronic scanners among others).

Other Related Issues:

Stakeholders collaboration and the road as shared access

Government and all stakeholders need to understand that with the ongoing effort to reconstruct Liverpool, Creek and Apapa Oshodi Express way, the capacity of Apapa maritime and logistics access has been greatly reduced hence need for tolerance and coordination.

Unnecessary competition, territorial tendencies and authority over access should be curtailed as it will worsen access management.

Traffic managers must be allowed to professionally mange access control based on sound unbiased professional principles.

Media Attack and Support

We have enjoyed considerable media support, but out of ignorance of our responsibility, deliberate act, the urge for bad news and more importantly from sponsored write ups by Corruption-Fight-Backs, we have been faced with barrage of negative news reporting from a section of the media.

We have all the same remained focused on the assignment.

Even when we engaged the media, it seems the headline is more about Gridlock rather than Restoration of Law and Order.

There is need for more media and stakeholders’ engagement. The Nigerian Shippers Council should be commended for providing such protection.

All stakeholders cooperation is required

Sustainability

While awaiting the implementation, conclusions and resolutions of all the ongoing Medium and Long Term Solutions, there is the need to sustain the gains and successes of the Current effort.

A special clean up exercise of Apapa is committed to commence very soon.

The FMWH has also commenced fencing of open spaces under the bridges cleared by the PTT.

The LASG has also agreed with the PTT position for the deployment of a dedicated 200-men Apapa Maritime and Logistic corridor dedicated LASTMA command as currently the case with the Lekki-Etiosa-Epe Express road during the concession period with LCC  (LCC model) with support from interested stakeholders following from the LSSTF model.

What is required from stakeholders is the resource, capacity and funding support to the dedicated traffic management and Enforcement team with strong security backing from the Lagos Sate Police Command when constituted.

Wet Cargo

There exist robust engagement between the PTT and the leadership at NNPC and its subsidiaries with activities along the Port Access roads. The PTT had consistently prevailed on PPMC to ensure only Tank farms with adequate holding bays, Tanker parks and clear mobility access are engaged for their product distribution.

NNPC also need to pay attention to the reduction in the capacity for Tanker park facilities in Lagos state with the receivership of Capital Tanker Park along Apapa Oshodi Express way, none utilization of MRS and Total Tanker Parks at Isolo and the ongoing reconstruction of Apapa Oshodi express way vis a vis the capacity and functionality of Tank farms along that corridor (with restricted access) when provided with products for distribution.

Based on the above, the leadership of NNPC/PPMC conveyed an high power stakeholders meeting in Abuja on the 25th of November, 2019 with the national leadership of NUPENG, NARTO and PTD, PPMC, NPSC and the PTT among others present. The meeting resolved as follows:

We Thank God and Commend NNPC?PPMC for another Dec/Jan of No fuel crisis and long queues at Fuel stations as a result of Fuel distribution and logistics concerns.

  1. PPMC Committed to making sure that products are distributed within Lagos depots in such a manner as not to constitute congestion in any part of Apapa and its environ.
  2. To provide products to only depots with access (not affected by construction works, diversion or closures), adequate holding bays within its premise commensurate with its loading programme and a trailer park outside Apapa.

 PTD, NUPENG and NARTO 

  1. To cooperate and work with the PTT, LASG and other stakeholders on all traffic management plans and other measures put in place by the PTT to ensure that fuel distribution and logistics does not constitute nor contribute to traffic congestion or gridlock in Apapa. 
  2. To constantly ensure that tanker drivers do not park on the roadway while approaching loading point or waiting to be loaded. 
  3. To ensure that tanker drivers will as much as possible reduce their presence on Lagos roadways during early morning and evening rush hours by agreeing with operational timetable of approach to Apapa depots between 10am to 5pm.

PTT committed to Ensure access to loading depot in line with loading program made available by PPMC .

Ensure that access will be made available to all Tankers with valid loading tickets to their loading depot to meet national demand except where there are genuine unforeseen access issues.

That access control between Tankers and other articulated vehicles would be managed to eliminate conflict and traffic gridlock.

The PTD, NUPENG and NARTO further requested for IMMEDIATE palliative and an Effective Construction related Traffic measures by the contractor handling the reconstruction of Apapa Oshodi Express road on all lanes of Apapa Oshodi Express road from Mile 2 to Coconut and the 2 service lanes from Coconut to Mile 2 to reduce untold hardship suffered by tankers plying the roads.

The unconditional palliatives on Marine beach roads leading to NIPCO and AITEO loading depot by the FMW&H

 FMW&H to do palliatives on all roads used by tankers and articulated vehicles nation-wide

 Called on the FMOT to look into the uncoordinated activities of drivers in the dry cargo haulage and logistics section nationwide, especially those servicing the ports

 Presidency to URGENTLY convene a joint meeting of all agencies of Government involved in Wet and Dry cargo section of the national economy to further assure of smooth Fuel and Port related cargo distribution during the yuletide.

Funding

Initially planned for not more than Two months, the PTT is in its Eight month. We however need to acknowledge the institutional financial support from: The LASG, NSC, NPA, and Corporate Social Responsibility from: Apapa Local Government, The Dangote Group (GDNL), Sifax Group, LASEMA Rescue Unit (LRU) and Apapa Amusement Park.

More support is required especially with regards to capacity support for incidence management, rescue and recovery activities.

Issues for consideration

  1. Operations of Transit truck parks and who should use them for transit.
  2. Road worthiness of trucks used in haulage business
  3. Documentation of Haulage companies engaged in Port haulage activities and minimum standards.
  4. Regulators, regulations and stakeholders engagement
  5. Issues of demurrage, storage fees and haulage fees.
  6. An Operational Manual Call up system pending introduction of electronic call up system.
  7. Wet cargo fuel distribution management system
  8. An acceptable stress free empty container management policy
  9. Extortion free Port access processes
  10. Health and acceptable competition among Port operators and clients
  11. Construction Access control, Stakeholders engagement and traffic management principles.
  12. Terminal operators capacity
  13. Unregulated and Uncoordinated Barge operation.
  14. Port Security personnel inspection along the Port access road 

Conclusion

  1. The Presidency, Lagos State Government and the Nigerian Police, Lagos Command should swiftly move in to sustain the gains of the Presidential Task Team while NPA and the Shippers council effect strict oversight of the activities of major stakeholders for the sustenance of the processes put in place.
  2. Lagos State government to take full responsibility, for the deployment of an efficient and effective traffic management along the maritime and logistic corridor.
  3. NPA, Shippers Council and other major stakeholders must work to get the Transit truck parks operations back on track with reduced human contact, strict transparent processes in our Port haulage and Logistics operations
  4. NPA and Shippers Council to institutionalize the operations of the nominated truck parks as it remains one of our treasured opportunities for effective control of indiscriminate stationary trucks on our roads. It has a combined capacity for about 3000 to 5000 trucks daily. It is interesting to note that it’s the mode of movement for BUA and Standard flour mills, while Dangote also recently acquired something of such in Ijora and Isolo to back its bigger parks at Ogere and Ikorodu.
  5. Federal Ministry of Works and Housing to prevail on its construction contractor, while working to achieve time line, to align its work and traffic management plan to consider the peculiarity of Apapa as a national economic hub and Port area with high “economic trucks” movement especially as it has to do with Port operations related movements.
  6. All stakeholders to cooperate believe in the system and take ownership of the activities of the Presidential Task team.
  7. Presidency to review items listed on the National emergency (here attached) as it relates to:
  1. Demurrage and Port rent fee on container returns and cargo for pickup respectively.
  2. Audit of the operations of Terminal operators
  3. Activities of shipping lines with regards to container return, best practices and demurrage charges.
  4. Customs inspection and the use of scanners
  5. General Port haulage and logistics minimum safety standards for Trucks.
  6. Port activity regulations and regulator.

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