By Nwangwu Uba
Containerised Truck owners’ are no longer finding it funny along the Lagos-Apapa Expressway to do their business. This is because of the high level of extortion by security operatives, along the port access road.
Narrating their traumatic experience from the lingering Lagos ports access roads gridlock, truckers, who are vital components of the logistics supply chain, were said to have cried out to President Muhammadu Buhari and Akinwumi Ambode, the Lagos State governor to speedily intervene to save the situation from degenerating as many of them were being forced out of business.
The road haulage operators under the aegis of Containerised Truck Owners lamented about the persisting trauma suffered in the hands of the security operatives and roads and bridges where trucks are parked, claiming that it was adversely affecting their health and the performance of their vehicles. They were said to have been made to pay between N20,00000.00 and N80,000,000.00 per truck to be allowed to remain on the long queue on the road or bridge, depending on the drivers ”negotiating power”.
This may have the Containerised Truck Owners under the aegis of the Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO) and the Container Truck Owners Association of Nigeria (COTOAN), to raise alarm, for government intervention.The leadership of the Association were said to have held several strategic meetings since its emergence, the latest being that of Thursday, December 13, 2018 on how to solve the problem of the security operatives.
In a communiqué dated December 14, 2018, and signed by Remi Ogungbemi, and Wasiu Oloruntoyin, representing AMATO and COTOAN, respectively, the truckers bemoaned the untimely death of truck drivers while on the queues of parked haulage vehicle, inability of the drivers on those parked trucks queues to bathe, eat, sleep or rest adequately due to the harassment of the uniformed men, who are mostly Naval and police personnel.
They frowned also at the exposure of the truck drivers on the queues to regular harassment by street urchins, commonly known as area boys, who are either agents the Naval or police personnel as well as vandals who constantly damage their trucks and steal critical parts, which replacement further drain the lean finances of the truck owners. ”The drivers on the truck queues are subjected to serial brutalisation and dehumanisation by these security operatives”, the association officials had said.
The yuletide period may have worsened the plight of the Containerised Truck Owners who are filled with angst of further distress in their lots, going by past records of increased undelivered imports and congestions along the port access road in Lagos, Nigeria Commercial hub center.
The aggrieved truckers noted that the current poor conditions members are contending with on Lagos ports access roads, in this Yuletide could further spell “sorrow, tears and blood” for them”, unless the Federal and Lagos State governments hearken to their cries to save their lives and means of livelihoods.
The Containerised Truck Owners equally made a passionate appeal to members of the general public, particular, residents of the area where the trucks are either on queued or parked, to support their efforts to force the governments both at the state and the Federal, level, to do the right thing by introducing an automated system to regulate movement of trucks in and out of the seaports as obtained in other parts of the world.
The proposed automated system, according to the truckers, will ”effectively help keep the ports access roads clear of congestion by ensuring that all the trucks would not be heading for the ports at the same time” except those given the green light to proceed to the port.
Truckers pleaded with Hadiza Usman, the Managing Director of the Nigeria Ports Authority, NPA, to speed up work at the truck terminal at Apapa where trucks that are already booked to load in the ports”, could easily park.
Even as the truckers urged the shipping companies to provide adequate functional holding bays for receiving their empty containers being returned by truckers, they were quick to point out that, ”no matter the capacities of the existing container holding bays, the facilities will always contend with under-utilisation because conveyance of the boxes still rest so much on overcoming the traffic gridlock”.
“Appealing to the Lagos State Government for the expansion of the Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Trailer Park at Orile Iganmu, that was faithfully started this year, The truck owners explained that, if the project is completed”, it will reduce the volume of trucks going to the ports for business purposes daily”. They want Ambode, the outgoing Lagos state governor to call back to site the contractor handling the expansion of the ABAT Trailer Park at ”White Sand, Orile, because the contractor has evacuated all his equipment from the site.”
According to the truckers,” if these structures could be put in place, it would automatically remove the clog of trucks on roads and bridges.”
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