The Managing Director, Ports & Terminal Multiservices Ltd Ascanio Russo is leading fresh campaign of new wave of workable port access road traffic decongestion to be driven by prescription of new minimum capital base, as was done in other sectors including the financial services and even the aviation industry.
He such new regulation if well introduced and implemented will restore sanity and cut down the traffic inconveniences’ being experienced around the ports areas which has extended across parts of Lagos.
Russo while agreeing that the ports reforms, particularly, the concessioning of the ports in 2006, had brought in millions of dollars investment by shippers and terminal operators, there has not been corresponding restructuring in the operations of the domestic logistics and services arm.
He further stated that introducing new capital base for truck and articulated vehicle operators will among other things, phase of over aged vehicles, force operators to own truck holding bays, enhance port services and downtime at the ports.
Besides, such new regulation will equally tame roadside parking of haulage vehicles, raise industry sanity, reduce congestion, eliminate the proliferation of service providers, and help check the importation of arms and ammunition, and other dangerous or banned goods.
Ascanio argued that where the government and relevant agencies including the NPA should really try to assist is in the area of coming up with a policy that will force maritime freights and logistics companies which is now super fragmented.
He further said that “There are thousands of clearing agents and this doesn’t help, because most of these companies are not structured; they are not big companies that you can even hold responsible.
“For example, when there is importation of arms and ammunition like you said before, sometimes it is difficult to understand who was the clearing agent involved, who was the importer involved, and even in this chaos that we are experiencing outside the port where there are thousands of trucks belonging to thousands of different companies.
“We don’t really have big logistics operators, I mean big clearing agents with a number of good and healthy trucks. Rather, we have a super fragmented industry with thousands of small players, thousand of clearing agents, thousand of truck owners, and these are all companies which are striving on very low margins.
“If we say, you need to have a minimum capital to be a clearing agent then of course all these small agencies will have to come together and structure like a proper company like other operators in the industry – the shipping agencies, the terminal operators.
“Some of these agencies are super professionals, but some are just briefcase carriers, moving around and that is the problem. The same thing goes for in the haulage sector; the trucks, and this one is a bit more complicated because it’s capital intensive. But that is an area that the Federal Government should come in and even support the creation of dedicated funds for the acquisition of better trucks.”
He also revealed that most of these companies don’t even have anything at stake. Even if they are doing something illegal, and they withdraw their licence, they would come back with a different licence, and this is part of the reform we have been advocating for years.”
While revealing that many of the trucks in use around the ports are between 40 and 50 years old, “there is now way to avoid congestion or traffic gridlock as currently being experienced around the ports areas since the vehicles fail at the slightest pressure.”
Corroborating Grimaldi Group’s boss submissions, Assistant Director, Public Affairs for Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Isichei Osambgi, disclosed in an interview that consolidation and minimum working capital would bring a lot of sanity to the local logistics industry.
According to him, “In our own case, our sub-sector is self regulatory because it is highly capital intensive, and operators know that just like the aircraft owners, if your equipment are down, you lose money. With minimum capital logistics and haulage operators will be able to retool and buy new vehicles for their operations and build holding bays which will keep trucks away from the highways.”