As the traffic situation around Apapa continues to be of great concern to economic activities, it becomes needful to take a critical look at some factors that should be calling for change. And one of such factors is the conditions of the maritime trucks used in transporting containers in and out of the port.
These trucks may have been serving the port operations over the years, but the wear and tear effect is also critical considering the frequency at which these rickety trucks get stuck on their journeys and causing untold hardship on the roads.
It would be recalled how on July 8, commuters got stuck in a most-regretful traffic gridlock at the close of the day’s business as a result of a rickety-looking truck that broke down laid across the road.
At about noon of the said day, the truck carrying two Twenty Equivalent Unit (TEU) containers out of the port city broke down just as it was about ascending the bridge out of Apapa.
A closer look at the truck showed that such a truck should have long stopped being used for container movement from place to place. It appeared the strength of the truck had wane so badly that it was virtually twisted and almost threw the laden-containers over from the top of the bridge.
This means that the sector lacks quality control and enforcement of safety standards. Just as it has often been said, developing the maritime sector must take the parts into cognizance for a meaningful and lasting effort.
With respect to quality control matters with maritime trucks, the Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO) through its chairman early in 2014 said that it had received about 120 units of the proposed 2000 trucks that an investor promised for the upgrade of the sector.
Of course, that investor saw the need for improvement in that regard, which prompted the move. But as at then, the association also said that it was waiting for the trucks to be as many as 500 before they could be distributed among their members.
The sector could afford to wait and operate with rickety trucks since no authority was in place to ensure standard compliance with regards to the conditions of the trucks.
Even then, the association, knowing the importance of maintenance of the trucks, declared that it would ensure that members would maintain standards of their trucks according to guidelines that would be set.
The association lamented that containers were falling off moving trucks because there were no regulations stating the minimum maintenance standards for operators of the trucks. It clarified ‘maintenance standards’ to include ascertaining the weight of a consignment relative to the capacity of a truck as ground rules to professional service.
The association advocated for a change of the mind-set of everyone involved; the truck –owner, the driver and the hirer. It pointed to the fact that the desire to cutting corners makes the hirer declare falsely the original weight of his container even when he can see that the truck looks worn out. The truck owner and driver also share of the blame because they know the truck capacity, but pretend not to, in the bid to get going with business.
So, it continues to be ‘business as usual.’ But if this is not a ‘Banana Republic,’ then, it will be high time the nation woke up to doing things right. There can’t be regulations in one part of a whole and some other parts are left to do as they wish. It will definitely be difficult to achieve the set goal.