The Amalgamation of Containers Truck Owners Association of Nigeria (ACTOAN) has accused some major players in the haulage sector of frustrating efforts to solve the perennial gridlock on the Apapa corridor in Lagos.
Olaleye Thompson, the chairman of the group, said the other haulage operators in the sub sector of the maritime industry have shown a lackluster attitude in forming a synergy towards addressing issues affecting truckers.
Mr Thompson identified those responsible for the woes as the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), the Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO), and the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN).
He accused the three associations of taking advantage of the deplorable state of the Apapa roads to enrich themselves.
“I have held series of meetings with these groups of truckers and I told them that I’m a truck owner myself and what will be paramount to the business is quick turnaround time,” Mr Thompson said.
“If the business is going unhindered then I don’t think we will be where we are today but 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.
Mr Thompson said exploring other alliances would possibly yield the desired result in resolving the issues of gridlock and extortion by security agencies along the corridor, 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,” he said.
“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.”
Mr Thompson also accused the Nigerian Shippers Council of lacking sincerity of purpose in addressing the issue of gridlock, extortion, and arbitrary charges of the terminal operators in Lagos seaports.
He called on the economic port regulator to direct the terminal operators to open all gates within their facilities to allow free exit and entry of container laden trucks.
According to him, most of the concessionaires, especially at Tin Can Island Containers Terminal (TICT) and APMT have multiple gates each but only three are accessible.
“Officials of the facilities are taking undue advantage of the closed gates to extort truckers, some of the gates can be accessed only when monies exchange hands,” Mr Thompson said.
“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.”
Ifeanyi Ekwunife, a member of RTEAN, identified leadership tussle as among the major problems responsible for the groups’ inability to work together.
“I believe the problem has to do with who should lead the amalgamation,” said Mr Ekwunife.
“Maybe RTEAN or NARTO feel they should be in the forefront of championing the amalgamation rather than playing the second fiddle.”
Mr Ekwunife urged ACTOAN to revisit the three associations in mapping out plans on how to cushion the effect faced by the operators along the port access roads.
Abdullahi Mohammed, the vice chairman of the Lagos State Dry Cargo Section of NARTO, however, distanced his group from any acts of extortion.
He accused ACTOAN of nursing a plan to extort haulage operators.
“NARTO as a reputable organisation will always protect the interest of all commercial truck owners in Nigeria and indeed the 36 states,” he added.
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