Fresh indications have shown that the electronic call-up system for the movement of trucks in and out of the port introduced by the Nigerian Ports Authority and managed by its technical partners, Truck Transit Park Limited may have been hijacked by black marketers.
The PUNCH learnt that these black marketers have hiked the prices for the call-up from N21, 500 it was sold by TTP to about N150,000 per call-up.
Recall that the NPA had recently, announced the temporary suspension of the release of flatbed trucks from Satellite truck parks to Pre-gate from entering various terminals inside the Lagos Port Complex.
Speaking with our correspondent, the Secretary General of the Association of Maritime Truck Owners, Mr Sanni Muhammed, explained that the prices of the call-up from the TTP have not changed.
He added that getting it from black marketers is very expensive.
“The charges for ETo have not changed, it is the black market Eto that has gone up. ETO call-up official charges for both bookings is N10,750. I booked a truck yesterday (Monday) and you can confirm from the invoice. If I match the truck to pre-gate, I will also pay N10,750,” Muhammed added.
Explaining further, he said, “The problem is that there are some private pre-gate operators who generate call-up tickets they don’t need for their private trucks to access the ports. These call-up tickets eventually find their way to the black market and are sold at outrageous prices especially when there is traffic,”
Sanni said that the enforcement operatives who are supposed to ensure things like this don’t happen are compromised.
“When there is chaotic Traffic gridlock arising from terminal inefficiency, trucks couldn’t batch on time. The fear of losing terminal delivery orders makes some truckers go for black market call-ups generated by private pre-gate operators,” Sanni stated.
However, the Lilypond Chapter Chairman of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, Mr Femi Olabanji, blamed corruption has led to an increase in haulage prices.
“Today, people are buying the call-up for as much as N150,000 from TTP for the main truck park. We are begging the government to look into this problem, the call-up system which we are doing for N27,000 cannot be sold for N150,000,” Olabanji said.
Meanwhile reacting to this, the Corporate Communications Manager of TTP Limited, Nancy Nnamdi, in a statement on Tuesday, denied the rumors of an increase in charge for ETO.
She said, “TTP, the operator of the eto electronic call-up system is issuing this statement in response to recent media reports alleging corruption in the sale of eto tickets at Lagos Ports. We would like to categorically state that at no point has an eto ticket been sold for the reported amount of N150,000. The approved and standard pricing structure is transparent and fixed. Costs range from N10,750 and not exceeding 21,500 (VAT inclusive). This price depends on the parks or pre-gates that these trucks are electronically scheduled to go through before they are batched and released to progress to the port,”
Nnamdi said that the primary issue with irregularities arose from the fact that truckers, fail to affix their plate numbers on their vehicles.
“Consequently, this allows for the potential swapping of plate numbers between trucks, leading to resale of tickets at inflated prices. It is important to emphasize that these practices are not endorsed or facilitated by Trucks Transit Parks Ltd or the eto system,”
According to her, “The escalated costs reported were as a result of individual truckers engaging in fraudulent activities, reselling their own tickets at prices significantly above the standard rates. This is against the laid down standard operating procedure put in place by the Nigerian Ports Authority for the electronic call-up system for Apapa and Tincan ports,”
She lamented that the practice is detrimental to the industry and the interest of truckers in general.