The Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO) has solicited the support of the the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and that of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) to get the Federal Government and the Lagos State Government to give them an undisclosed sum as loan to enable them secure a piece of land to serve as a holding bay for truckers working at Tincan Island and Apapa ports.
The President of AMATO, Chief Remi Ogungbemi who made this appeal yesterday when he led some officials of the association on courtesy visit to the Executive Secretary of the NSC, Barr. Hassan Bello in Lagos, recalled all the effort the association in partnership with the NSC had put in towards securing a holding bay for truckers so as to solve the perennial traffic in the port access roads which had not yielded any positive result.
He said,” I am here again to also let you know that on our own, we have discovered another place, a place that is big enough to accommodate about 1,500 trucks and the place I must say is already laid with asphalt, the place is about few kilometers to the Apapa and Tincan ports.
“The place as I speak, if we meet the conditions within 12 hours or within 24 hours, we can move in and start using the place. But the owners of the property is asking for outright sale and for your information, we have taken the owner of the property to the NPA and negotiation is ongoing with the owners facility and I know that by the time the Nigerian Shippers’ Council steps in, it will fast track and make it possible.
“But the asking price of that place is outside what we can achieve. I am even suggesting, may be we should put it in writing, with the authorities especially to the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, if through Shippers’ Council or through NPA, the federal government in collaboration with Lagos state government will give us a loan to get the place so that we work out a modality on how the truck owners will start paying back the loan for which the governments will use to acquire the place because this can also be transferred to be paid along with terminal charges which the truckers will be paying daily to park at the terminal”.
He however thanked the Executive Secretary for his timely intervention during the recent withdrawal of service by the truckers and the freight forwarders as well as his intervention in the disagreement among the truckers, the terminal operators and the shipping companies over demurrage on damaged containers which was as a result of bad roads, which he said had saved the situation.
Responding, the Executive Secretary of NSC, Barr. Hassan Bello while thanking them for the visit described truckers as critical partners on whose shoulders rest 70% of the economy as they carry the burden of the economy.
Bello who described trucking business as an international business everywhere in the world noted that that was the reason why the council being an economic regulator in trying to galvanize all aspects of transportation always accord them the priority since they understood how important truckers were.
“Right from the ports, the situation is not good because we need to have a modern trucking system. The port first of all should be accessed not only by road but by other means of transportation. There must be a holding bay or some other areas of waiting whereby the trucks can be called when needed so that we have an automated system. Access to the ports is not just by anybody, you cannot drive a truck from Yola and just say you come to pick cargo from the port”, he said.
He however called on leadership of AMATO to officially write the council on the area of assistance as it relates to the holding bay they talked about for them to see how they could assist in realizing their dream urging them not to hesitate to approach the council whenever there is the need to do so.
“Please, just bear in mind that you have a partner and an equal party, we are not a headmaster”, he assured.
When asked by the newsmen to disclose the location of the proposed holding bay, Chief Ogungbemi declined citing political reason as a reason he chose to be silent on the location of the said piece of land.
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