The Joint Council of Seaport Truckers (JCOST) has said that it would support any effort by the government aimed at ensuring standardization of all the trucks operating within the nation’s seaport.
The secretary General of JCOST, Mr. Godwin Ikeji who was reacting to the minimum standard set for all the trucks that are plying the Lagos Port Complex by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) said the Council was not against such move adding that they had been applying the said standard before now.
Ikeji while assuring of full compliance by truckers to the minimum standard set by the NPA however bemoan the state of infrastructures which he said was detrimental to their business both individually and collectively.
He further pointed out that in enforcing standard, NPA should ensure that it also pay attention to such bottlenecks that militate against the smooth operations of the truckers like the roads, terminal operators and shipping companies’ charges saying that it should not only be concerned with how to extort money from the truckers.
According to him,” JCOSt as a body, we don’t have anything against it. We have been applying it even before now. It is over a year issue, we have applied it and our members are really doing their best and you can see that our trucks are coming back safely. They take delivery from the ports and come back safely. The only accident you see is where there is bad infrastructure like roads”.
“We have been complying. If you look in the field, this is no more the era that you see Fiat, C3 on the way, you can see the level of vehicles plying our roads and in the port. Our members have been doing their best inspite of lack of assistance from anywhere even there is no agency, there is no bank toady that is giving loan to the truckers, there is no facility for truckers, our members have been doing their best and our trucks are up to the task”.
“If they want to enforce minimum standard, let it be holistic, minimum standard on the roads, minimum standard on the part of the terminal operators, minimum standard on the part of the shipping lines, not just to find a way to extort the motor owners because the minimum standard cannot be only with the owners. What of the roads they are passing through? What of the people who are servicing them?”
On the proposed consolidation of truckers to form trucking companies, Mr. Ikeji noted that the proposed consolidation of truckers into trucking companies had nothing to do with minimum standard as it was one of the ways proposed to manage the traffic situation in Apapa.
“NPA brought about the Electronic Port Access System, today, some people are talking of the booking system, we are talking of call up system. These they want to do to bring the truckers together as to be able to manage them rather than the way we are fragmented here and there. It is another way and we are watching”, he said.
On whether the idea had been jettisoned by the authorities, he had this to say,” no, it is not forgotten, you know, our people being what we are, we Nigerians are too individualistic and the level of awareness academically in the industry is very low”.
“So, to bring an idea is good but for the people to accept it and understand it is another thing. What happened is that for now, we are looking forward to a better working environment and that better working environment implies also the people coming up, meeting up and operating at a level applicable in other countries, there won’t be this family business and so on. That will help”.