Terminal operators canvass three-year moratorium for truck drivers
TO successfully implement 6am to 9pm restriction order placed on truck drivers operating within Lagos metropolis, Terminal Operators have appealed to the State Government to grant a three-year moratorium.
According to the Terminal Operators, deferment in the implementation of the law for the next three years will create the platform needed for Government and stakeholders to partner on alternative truck routes and modes of evacuating cargo from the Seaports.
Under the aegis of Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), the group urged the Lagos State Government to reconsider implementing the law “because of its negative impact on port operation and the larger economy”.
Chairman of STOAN, Princess Vicky Haastrup, in a statement on Monday said: “While we appreciate the effort of the State Government in ensuring safety of lives and property within the metropolis, we must not fail to underscore the implication of the restriction order”.
Haastrup explained that due to security concerns, truck drivers might not be willing to move at night, adding that “This means cargo will not leave the ports and if cargoes don’t leave the port, the ports will be congested and the economy will be affected”.
Explaining further, Haastrup said terminal operators and relevant government agencies have worked very hard over the past nine years to eliminate port congestion, noting that the restriction order is capable of reversing the gains made so far.
According to Haastrup, the implication of port congestion is that “shipping insurance costs will rise steeply, freights will be jerked up and shipping lines will slam congestion surcharges – which had been eliminated since 2006 after port concession – on cargoes coming to our ports.
All these costs will be passed to the consumer leading to higher costs of goods in the market and higher inflation,” Haastrup said.
The STOAN Chairman also used the opportunity asked truck operators and drivers to stop indulging in blame game and take responsibility for the safety of their trucks on the roads.
Haastrup said: “STOAN is also seriously concerned about the needless lost of lives that results from truck accidents. We, therefore urge the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) and other statutory government agencies to monitor and impound rickety trucks and take them off the roads.
“The leaders of the truckers’ associations need to train their members on safe driving habits rather than trying to look for who next to blame for their involvement in accidents on the roads,” Haastrup said.
She also charged the Federal and Lagos State Governments to repair roads and provide parks for the trucks.
Haastrup recalls that Section 2 of the law restricts movement of trailers and articulated vehicles to night time, with only petrol tankers and long vehicles used in conveying passengers, allowed to travel within the metropolis during the day, pointing out that vehicles with more than one rear axle or six tyres are allowed to move only between 6am and 9pm.
The statement issued by STOAN spokesperson, Bolaji Akinola, quoted Haastrup as saying the exemptions to the restriction covers tour or passenger buses, fire service trucks, rescue and recovery trucks, patrol trucks, perishable farm products trucks, refuse collection trucks, cement mixer trucks, tractors and refrigerated trucks.
STOAN said the “general impression is that the movement restriction targets trucks involved in evacuating cargoes from the port.”
Citing ongoing negotiation, truck drivers operating at the seaports in Lagos, last Thursday, suspended ten-day strike.
The drivers declared the industrial action to protest restriction of their movements between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. by the Lagos State government.
In a chat with The Guardian, Chairman of the Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO), Chief Remi Ogungbemi, explained that the strike was suspended to give more rooms for negotiation.
According to him, members of the association need one month to comply with the restriction order placed on them by the state government.
He said: “We are trying as much as possible not to be confrontational. The Government is our government. We have set up our own monitoring team. Any truck not of standard will not be allowed to load.
Speaking against the backdrop of a fatal container truck accident, which claimed three lives at Ojuelegba, recently, the Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Transportation, Oluseyi Whenu, said the trailer involved in the accident contravened Section 2 (i) (ii) of the Lagos State Road Traffic Law.
The State Government subsequently announced plans to implement the policy by restricting the movements of trucks and trailers within the metropolis between 6am and 9pm.
Whenu said, “The state government will henceforth go tough on any trailer and long vehicle that contravened the law, as such vehicle will be impounded and made to pay the stipulated fine accordingly.”
The section of the state traffic law states that “any driver found contravening the provisions of this section shall have his vehicle impounded by a duly authorised officer of the authority and shall upon conviction be liable to a fine of N50, 000 or a term of imprisonment for six months or both.”
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