NAC partners truck owners on new fleet for ports’ operations
FOLLOWING clamour by stakeholders in the maritime sector for the full implementation of minimum haulage standards at the nation’s seaports, the Federal Government has announced plans to provide necessary financial assistance to truck owners.
The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) had recently informed the Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO) of its intention to enforce standards.
Speaking in Lagos on the proposed Federal Government financial assistance to the truck owners, the Director-General of National Automotive Council (NAC), Aminu Jalal, an engineer, said the agency was awaiting the response of truck owners before taking further step.
Already, NAC has opened negotiation with some financial institutions with ‘flexible terms’ including a South African bank.
Jalal described previous meetings between NAC, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) and some maritime stakeholders as fruitful, pointing out that there is need for more meetings where details can be arrived at.
The NAC boss said representatives of the South African bank are expected in Nigeria this month to open discussions on the proposed financial assistance.
Urging truck owners in the maritime sector to come forward with their request and specifications, Jalal said prompt clearance of goods from the ports is in the interest of all stakeholders.
Jalal said. “We (NAC) are ready to facilitate the transactions. Truck manufacturers such as ANAMCO and NTM have started operations. Plans are under way for about eight more truck firms to start operations this year. Truck owners in the maritime sector should take advantage of this opportunity. We are ready to assist them with funding. We need to have their specifications. All goods come through the port. It is in our interest to see that port operations are not disturbed by broken down trucks. Prompt clearance of goods is also in the interest of the auto sector”.
Reacting to the clamour for improved standards recently, Chairman, Association of Maritime Truck Owners, Chief Remi Ogungbemi, said his members are making effort to adjust to the standards.
Ogungbemi said the initiative would encourage people to maintain their trucks, pointing out that it would impact on their business positively.
Jalal said NAC has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the South Africa bank, adding that the maritime truck owners would be able to access loans at a reasonable lending rate.
He explained that the auto policy have mainly two objectives, “the first one is to bring back assembly companies and the second is to develop local content for these companies. The benefits to the Nigeria economy are many, of course, as it would create jobs and we would also save foreign exchange. It may be small initially but later, it would be a huge saving.
“Vehicles and their spare parts are already the second largest users of foreign exchange. So, if we can do something to reduce the volume of foreign exchange required by developing local content, it would be to our own advantage and benefit and then we can export to other neighbouring countries.