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Cargo congestion looms at ports as truck owners threaten strike


Nigeria Customs Service

The Association of Maritime Truck Owners has threatened to stop lifting of cargoes at the nation’s seaports, if the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) does not end ‘illegal’ auction of its trucks.

If the truck owners carry out their threat by embarking on strike, it would ground the ports and lead to congestion of cargoes, as well as loss of billions of Naira to demurrage, if not curtailed.

Chairman of the association, Chief Remi Odugbemi, told The Guardian yesterday that they have begun to mobilise members for the strike from Wednesday, April 10, 2019 if the NCS failed to accede to their demands.

The group, however, urged the National Assembly and Federal Government to prevail on the NCS to stop auctioning their trucks, since they were neither importers nor smugglers.

The Guardian learnt that over 100 trucks were currently in customs custody and would be auctioned soon, having being seized while conveying confiscated cargoes from the ports to various destinations in the country.

Odugbemi said: “Customs should stop the process. If not, we will withdraw our services from the ports by Wednesday. Consultation is ongoing and we will not hesitate to go ahead.”

Besides, mixed reactions have continued to trail Customs distribution of relief materials at the weekend as the service has been accused of lopsidedness in Kano.

The NCS commenced the distribution of confiscated foreign rice from smugglers nationwide last month to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps and orphanage homes across the country.

The disbursement of the relief materials was in compliance with the presidential directive to ameliorate the sufferings of vulnerable persons.

A coalition of community support for social services in Kano had criticised the process of selecting beneficiaries, claiming that Customs was being selective in the distribution process.

Leader of the group, Nasiru Musa, who spoke with reporters at the Kano/Jigawa Command of the NCS, lamented that over 50 associations, who besieged the Customs office to collect rice were denied.

But in a swift reaction, Public Relations Officer (PRO) of NCS, Deputy Controller of Customs (DCC) Joseph Atta refuted the allegation, saying the relief materials were meant for only registered and verified IDPs and Orphanage homes in Kano.

He stressed that 103 associations, including IDPs and Orphanage homes had so far benefit from the relief materials in the state.

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