NPA wades in as truckers’ strike takes toll on cargo evacuation

The strike embarked upon by truck drivers and operators under the aegis of the Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO) and the National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) went full swing yesterday, hampering evacuation of cargo at the Lagos Port Complex Apapa and the Tin Can Island Port Complex.

The roads leading into and out of the port community were unusually free and devoid of the characteristically high number of trucks.

The truck drivers and operators are protesting the restriction of their movement within Lagos metropolis by the state government to nighttime – 9pm to 6am.

But the strike action is giving the management of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) concerns because it could create a backlog of cargoes at the ports and create congestion. Consequently, NPA said it had opened talks with the Lagos State Government with a view to finding an amicable solution to the face-off.

Speaking exclusively to SHIPS & PORTS DAILY yesterday, NPA’s General Manager, Public Affairs, Capt. Iheanacho  Ebubeogu said, “We have been in touch with Lagos State Government and they said they will get back to us.”

AMATO Chairman, Chief Remi Ogungbemi also confirmed the development.

He said, “We heard that the management of NPA has started engaging the Lagos State Government on how to resolve the issue but the strike still remains. We want the whole country to know the importance of truck drivers to the national economy.”

Meanwhile, stakeholders have started reacting to the indefinite strike action embarked upon by truckers.

Speaking to SHIPS & PORTS DAILY yesterday, the General Manager, Offdock Terminal of Sifax Group, Oliver Omajuwa asked the government to meet with the stakeholders to agree on the way forward.

“If the truth must be told, you don’t just make laws to be popular. We have to look at the situation holistically.

He said, “Yes, the frequent truck accident is a threat to human life but has the government considered the more dangerous implications of trucks moving at night without enforcing minimum truck standards?

“What about government patching, at least, all the pits of hell on our roads while ensuring that trucks safety standards are enforced?

“What about the implications of night movements of these articulated vehicles in the night? Are we saying operations in the port will now be in the night? What happened to the truck holding bays? Do we have effective security to secure the goods that will be in transit during the night? Are we saying the port operators should load the trucks and keep them in their yards till night?”

President, Shippers Association of Lagos State (SALS), Rev. Jonathan Nicol asked the two warring parties to reach compromise.

“I think we should appeal to Lagos State Government to call them for discussion. Problems are made to be solved because if everyone is comfortable with themselves and working period is comfortable for everyone, they will call off the strike.

“We need a lot of response from Lagos State and if truck drivers cannot move freely in the morning, how will they move in the night? It was a major problem.‎ It was done before but it didn’t work and they put an end to it,” he said.

Deputy National President, National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), Emmanuel Akide said the strike would affect port operation.

“Port operation is a chain and should anything happen to anyone of them, operations will be affected. We cannot work without them because since they are on strike, no one will move the boxes out of the port,” he said.

  

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