The federal government has been accused of scuttling the initiative for every major shipping company to set up a holding bay for empty containers in off-port locations.
The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) had given the directive as part of measures to reduce vehicular traffic to the ports and cut the timeline for the delivery of empty containers by importers to shipping companies.
It had even gone ahead to sanction some companies for failing to set up their own holding bays by imposing a 10-day suspension.
However, the suspension was lifted following the direct intervention of the federal government which forced NPA to pull a break on the enforcement of the directive, says Babatunde Shittu, Chief Executive Officer of Shibab Services Limited, an indigenous shipping company.
According to a report by Vanguard, Shittu alleged that some powerful persons in government mounted pressure on the Managing Director of NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman, to rescind the decision to sanction some shipping companies.
On July 14, 2018 NPA had sanctioned Maerskline, Cosco Shipping, APS and Lansal for initial 10 days for their failure to fully comply with the directive to acquire and operate holding bays. A few days afterwards, the sanction was lifted as pressure was brought to bear on NPA.
Shittu said that the withdrawal of the sanction has led to the persistence of the traffic gridlock along the port access roads.
“I think government should be concerned and government should punish them. I think the shipping companies are supposed to be held accountable. NPA Managing Director did it, but the powers that be mounted pressure on her, they cried and they were restored back to operation.
“If government has the will power to sanction erring shipping companies and terminal operators, I think this issue of container holding bay will be put to rest,” Shittu stated, blaming the federal government for undue interference in a technical venture that required adherence to extant rules.
“I learnt that Lagos State is constructing one in Iganmu but I do not know how far they have gone about it; maybe if that one is ready everything will get better,” he added.