Frustrated by the high level extortion allegedly by the Presidential task force deployed to manage the Apapa gridlock, truck owners operating at the Lagos port in partnership with freight forwarders said they have begun moves to take control of movement of trucks in and out of the ports.
The group under the aegis of Committee of Freight Forwarders and Maritime Truck Owners had accused the task team of extorting between N150,000 and N180,000 from truckers before they could access the ports.
A member of the group and Chairman, Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO), Chief Remi Ogungbemi, who disclosed the development in a chat with SHIPS & PORTS, said the partnership with the freight forwarders became necessary since they are in the business of clearing containers from the ports.
Ogungbemi while maintaining that the task force has overstayed its purpose and therefore be disbanded said the extortion by the task team along the port corridors is largely responsible to the rising cost of goods in the market.
He said the group had written and consulted with the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) and other relevant stakeholders to ensure that everyone is carried along on its plan.
He said, “We want to take over control of trucks by ourselves and we are collaborating with freight forwarders. We have met with the leadership of the freight forwarding associations because the agents clear the container and the goods belong to them while the trucks belong to us. So we are collaborating to synergise to be on the road, directing and controlling the movement of trucks. We want to know those that will be asking us to bring money.
“We are being careful; we don’t want any situation that the hoodlum will hijack. So we want to make sure we inform all the relevant authorities. We have written to the Governor of the Lagos State, Shippers Council, NPA, and NIMASA to inform them of our plan so that they won’t say they are not aware.
“We would have started today but we still want to seek further consultation with relevant agencies and associations. We are not doing this in the name of any association. We have Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO), Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN), corporate fleet owners, and the freight forwarders we are doing it collectively.”
Ogungbemi, while maintaining that the task force has overstayed its purpose and therefore be disbanded said the extortion by the task team along the port corridors is largely responsible for the rising cost of goods in the market.
“As far as I am concerned, the task team is no longer relevant. They have stayed beyond their usefulness because they are compounding the problem, they are no longer solving problems. All the extortion and bribery are a contributing factor to the rising cost of commodities in the market.
“They have succeeded even in creating more division among us. So that is why we say we want to start controlling our trucks by ourselves. Although we can’t do without the police in case of any breach, but we are fed up with the presidential task force. They are gone already and we don’t want a situation where the Authority will now put an old wine in a new bottle.
“If there should be anything at all, let it be new wine in a new bottle but our resolution is that, we want to be controlling the trucks ourselves so that we see who will demand money from our members,” he said.