Truck owners, government meeting deadlocked
THE stakeholders meeting convened on yesterday in Lagos to address the current strike by truck operators ended in a stalemate, as no resolution was reached to end the strike which is in its ninth day.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that, at a point, the truck operators, in anger, walked out of the meeting held in Apapa.
Chief Remi Ogungbemi, Chairman of the Association of Maritime Truck Owners, said the meeting was expected to continue on today in the office of the General Manager of Western Ports in Apapa.
Representatives of the Nigerian Ports Authority, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council and two groups of truck owners and Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) attended the meeting.
Ogungbemi said the restriction of the time of their operation by the Lagos State Government was not tenable as terminal operators and shipping companies did not work at night.
He described the restriction order as “rather biased” against truck operators as tankers carrying oil were allowed to move at anytime.
The Deputy Chairman of the Tin-Can Island Chapter of RTEAN, Mr Anthony Agbanose, accused the Lagos State Transport Management Authority (LAMATA) of unnecessarily going after truck drivers, oftentimes resulting to accidents.
Agbanose also blamed the incessant falling off of containers from moving trucks on the deplorable state of roads across the city.
He said it would be better if the restriction order was not placed on only a selected category of trucks.
Mr Cajetan Agu, who is in charge of compliance and monitoring at the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, told truck operators to keep to the agreement they reached at a meeting with the State Government at Alausa, Ikeja.
Agu said that while the stakeholders had gathered to work out the possibility of calling off the strike, the truck operators should ensure they would henceforth maintain their trucks.
He said the truck operators should also be prepared to keep to using the service lane and driving under over-head bridges. Agu said he was sure the state government would rescind the restriction order if and when truck operators submitted the letter indicating their willingness to keep to the agreement reached.
Responding, the truck operators said they were on their way to submit the letter to the office of the Permanent Secretary at Alausa.
Lamenting the plight of shippers, the President of the Shippers Association Lagos State, Mr Jonathan Nicol, demanded that the Shippers’ Council looked into the problem of who would pay the demurrage for locked-up containers.
The Commissioner of Police, Port Police Command, Mrs Hilder Ibifuro-Harrison, said the police would ensure compliance with the law even as the law banning truck movement during the day had existed since 2012.
She said that government had right and responsibility of protecting its citizens and that the police would work along that line with human face.
The commissioner said that security would always be provided to enable the economy move forward. Ibifuro-Harrison said it was not good that work had been on hold for two weeks.adding that it would be demanding for all stakeholders by the time they resumed work.
A company, FT Global Ltd., represented by Chief Chris Orode, said a “call-up” system must be put in place to ensure sanity in the operations of the trucks.
Orode said that a truck park had been secured and that they had been discussing with the NPA, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council and the State Government to ensure a healthy business environment.
A representative of Greenview Terminals, Mr Yakubu Abdullahi, blamed truck operators.
Abdullahi said that his company had been paying demurrage on vessels, adding that production had been difficult since the company did not get its cargo delivery on time.
He urged stakeholders to be transparent on all issues affecting each other and solicited government’s support to fix the port access roads.
The General Manager, Western Ports, Chief Michael Ajayi, said it was sad that trucks were falling and killing innocent people.
He said that government was only carrying out its responsibility of protecting citizens by restricting movement of trucks.
Ajayi said that truck operators could seek redress in court since the issue involved an existing law.