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Bottlenecks driving indigenous operators out of business, truckers claim

By Adaku Onyenucheya
29 September 2022   |   2:50 am
Truckers operating in the nation’s maritime industry have lamented that the bottlenecks created by government agencies and illegalities at the ports’ access roads may drive them out of the industry.

[FILES] Trucks parked along Apapa port road

Truckers operating in the nation’s maritime industry have lamented that the bottlenecks created by government agencies and illegalities at the ports’ access roads may drive them out of the industry.

The National President, Council of Maritime Transport Union and Association (COMTUA), Adeyinka Aroyewun, who disclosed this, said indigenous truckers are faced with challenges such as the high cost of the electronic call-up, illegal deduction in form of demurrage by Truck Transit Park (TTP) limited, harassment of truckers by law enforcement agencies, extortion by state and non-state actors, preferences given to foreign logistics companies and military trucks involved in the return of empty containers to the ports, among others.

Aroyewun lamented that foreigners are given free hand to operate in the country, noting that security operatives stopping trucks on the roads, do not stop foreign-owned trucks, hence importers prefer them to avoid their containers being stopped on the road and delayed.

The COMTUA boss said just like indigenous ship owners are no longer in business because of foreign dominance of the business in Nigeria, the logistics industry will also take the same form in the next five years.

“When terminal operators issue a terminal delivery order (TDO) for us to come and pick up cargo from the terminal, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) will not allow us to go there, we have to go through the e-call up system, which can take us another four days before we go and carry the cargo. During that four days, the owner of the cargo is paying N15, 000 per day as rent on the container. No importer will want to pay such money when foreign companies can deliver their trucks on the same day.

“On the other hand is the heavy-duty permit and road worthiness documentation for the Federal Government agencies that certify trucks worthy to be on the road. NPA said we must get a minimum safety standard sticker for N10, 000 per annum for our trucks to be inspected to ensure it has safety compliance, but the truth is that NPA just collects the money without any inspection. It is in their office they get your truck registration number and issue you this sticker,” he explained.

The truckers also faulted claims by the Port Standing Task Team (PSTT) of eliminating corruption along the ports access roads in Lagos State.

Aroyewun said the performance of the task team is being exaggerated and described it as lies, noting that the activities of the team have further encouraged corruption at the ports.

Aroyewun scored the achievement of the task team as 15 per cent, noting that they have not succeeded in removing the extortion and illegalities on the road, but rather get involved in kickbacks.

“Which of the state and non-state extortion practitioners are no longer on the port roads doing their normal business of extortion currently?

“The Police still have all their checkpoints intact, nothing has changed. The checkpoints and extortionists were at Area B before, but are now at Ijora, also at Ottorwharf before, but now at Ijesha doing the same thing. The only thing the PSTT does is to chase them away from that point to another point,” he stated.

He said when trucks break down on the road due to mechanical faults or a shortage of gas, the port task team moves the trucks to a destination where truckers are asked to pay N10, 000 daily for storage.

The COMTUA boss said the PSTT deliberately refused to attend to the matter in one week, thereby making the truckers pay an accumulated N70, 000 for the seven days in that location.

Defending the performance of the PSTT, the National Coordinator, Moses Fadipe, said in the last 18 months of its operations, the PSTT has become arguably the single most impactful initiative of the administration’s drive in the ease of doing business in Nigeria.

He said the PSTT has helped improve transparency, efficiency effectiveness and predictability in port operations and has improved the level of compliance by terminals operators, shipping companies, importers, exporters, freight forwarders and government agencies.

Fadipe added that multiple checkpoints of various government agencies and non-state actors from Apapa port gate up to Ijora bridge, after the terminal releases cargo, which contributes to traffic gridlock along the port corridor, have been dismantled, while the exercise is ongoing along the Tin Can axis.

He informed that over 150 trucks have been arrested and made to adhere to various compliance provisions through the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC).

Fadipe added that the PSTT has not only come in to fill the gap but to also redeem Nigeria’s public sector corruption perception and improve the country’s ranking of the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) in the international space.

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