By Ajibola Abayomi,
The Amalgamation of Container Truck Owners Association of Nigeria (ACTOAN) has accused the three major haulage groups in the maritime industry of selfishness and egoistic in addressing the problems of gridlock in the ports access roads.
ACTOAN alleged that the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), Road Transport Employers’ Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) and Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO) have declined efforts to synergise against gridlock on the port access road as well as illegal extortion by security agents.
The new group did not spare the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) of the blame as it accused the port economic regulator of not being proactive in addressing the issue of gridlock, extortion and arbitrary charges by terminal operators.
Chairman of the group, Olaleye Thompson said the three major associations in haulage operations, were operating without sincerity of purpose in the industry
He alleged that the three associations were taking advantage of the deplorable state of the roads to enrich themselves.
“I have held series of meetings with these groups of truckers and I told them that am a truck owner myself.”
He averred that quick turnaround time and unhindered business operations help business to move smoothly.
The Chairman alleged that the major associations in haulage business are interested in collecting money from truck drivers at the port entry points.
He added that: “And what will be paramount to the business is quick turnaround time and if the business is going unhindered then I don’t think we will be where we are today.
“When you go to Tin Can port access road today, you will find out that these associations are collecting money from people which we are not part of.
“We have tried our best to work in synergy with NARTO, RTEAN and AMATO but I don’t understand what they are up to.“We have been on this for over two months. It has been one meeting or the other but none has yielded any positive results .
He however maintained that the group has decided to work without alliance with other groups which according to him, would possibly yield the desired result in resolving the issues of gridlock and extortion by security agencies along the corridors, pointing out that the introduction of the group’s stickers would aid their operational activities.
“We decided that our group of truck owners should carry the cross by ourselves because sometimes it is only when you have the same interest with people that an alliance can work better.
“If you know that your ideas will not be in the same level with theirs then there is no way we all can be in the same page, “he lamented.
He also called on the Nigerian Shippers Council to be proactive in addressing the issue of gridlock, extortion and arbitrary charges of the terminal operators in Lagos seaports, saying that the agency lacks sincerity of purpose in its operations.He therefore called on the port economic regulator to direct the terminal operators to open all gates within their facilities to allow free exit and entry for container laden trucks.
Thompson maintained that most of the concessionaires, especially at Tin Can Island Containers Terminal (TICT) and APMT have about multiple gates each but only three are accessible.
He alleged that officials of the facilities are taking undue advantage of the closed gates to extort truckers adding that some of the gates can be accessed only when monies exchange hands.
“There is no sincerity of purpose from the government agencies operating at the ports because whatever idea you sell to them, they will decline to buy it “According to him, stakeholders and government agencies can solve the issue of gridlock along the corridors within 48 hours, but lamented insincerity is the bane of such feat.
On his part, a chieftain of RTEAN, Comrade Ifeanyi Ekwunife opined that the major problem has to do with who should lead the amalgamation.
According to him “I believe the problem has to do with who should lead the amalgamation. Maybe RTEAN or NARTO feel they should be in the forefront of championing the amalgamation rather than playing the second fiddle,”he added, saying that ” maybe they feel they are not well carried along.
Ekwunife called on the group to revisit the three associations in mapping out plans on how to cushion the effect faced by the operators along the port access roads.
But reacting on the allegations levelled against some of the trucking association, Vice Chairman, Lagos State Dry Cargo Section of NARTO, Alhaji Abdullahi Inuwa Mohammed maintained that “NARTO as a reputable organisation will always protect the interest of all commercial truck owners in Nigeria and indeed the 36 states”
According to him, NARTO is mindful of the fact that transportation of goods and services thrive in the country, adding that the association was aware of the existence of the amalgamation of truck owners.
However, he argued that the new group of truckers have the mindset of extorting operators in the haulage sub sector.