Work environment has improved but truckers are dying silently, says Mohammed


A former Lagos State Vice Chairman, Dry Cargo section of the National Association of Road Transport Owners, NARTO, Alhaji Abdullahi Inuwa Mohammed has said that although the work environment within the Lagos seaport has improved, truckers are still dying silently as a result of many factors.

Mohammed who disclosed this in a chat with our correspondent in Lagos on Tuesday said this is occasioned by lull in activities at the ports including less importation compared to what it used to be in the past. He also lamented lower cost of transportation occasioned by so many expenses incurred by the truck drivers on their way to convey cargoes to the owners warehouse and back to the port.

He said, “For one to carry container or any other consignment going to Agbara for instance, before you get to Agbara, you would have spent nothing less than between N35,000 and N40,000 in various checkpoints mounted by both state and non state actors and on returning, you are going to face the same challenge.

“When you look at the cost of diesel and other motor lubricant, it has doubled up to 300 percent. With that, you see that the token you have collected for transportation will go down in settling Agberos and vehicle maintenance and at the end of the day, you go home with little or nothing. And in most cases, you may even need to borrow to fix your truck in case of vehicle breakdown.”

Reminded that the Port Standing Task Team, PSTT has done enough in ridding the port corridors of extortions and illegal collections of any kind, he said, “Actually, they have tried their best and they are doing a wonderful job within the port access roads but outside the port, from Mile 2 going to Amuwo-Odofin or towards Orile, you will see a lot of challenges that the truckers are facing, the drivers especially because they are being manhandled by those Agberos in a bid to force them to drop the charges they require at each point.

“Earlier this year, about two drivers had lost their lives and along Trade Fair, there was a time the Agberos were dragging steering with a driver leading to killing of about three people including a police man. These are what we have been facing.”

On what the Unions are doing to tame this menace, Mohammed who is the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of G.G Global Enterprises Nigeria Limited said, “On our own as a Union, we are trying all our best to see that truckers entirely have conducive environment to carry on their business but you have to understand that what we are saying is beyond what we are thinking but we have waded in through our national leadership and our national leadership is working towards that.

“We started with the last government and now, there is a change in government. As you can see, both the state and federal government are yet to announce their Ministers and Commissioners. I believe that is what is delaying further engagement but all I can say is that it’s on the pipeline.”

Speaking on the electronic call up system instituted by the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA about two years ago, he said that the innovation had improved the traffic situation along the port corridors even as he claimed that there were still some lingering issues. “This is not to say that things are going well as they should but what we expect them to do is to tackle those lingering problems even though there are some which are above them.

“Part of the lingering problem is what the PSTT should wade in and some also, you will see that the lack of the National Single Window with some agencies have created. Assuming we have National Single Window, you will see that it will be much more seamless.

“Some trucks will be admitted into the transit parks but the terminals, most especially, APMT do have delays in accepting trucks thereby leaving the trucks at the parks accumulating demurrage which is not supposed. Whenever you are admitted to the park and you apply for call up to access the terminal and there are delays from the point of the terminal operators, the demurrage should be borne by the terminal operators for the delay because already we have keyed in only that access is denied to the truckers.”

He thereafter advised the present administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to appoint technocrats who understand the nitty gritty of the maritime sector to oversee the affairs of the sector and further create a conducive environment for operators to thrive.

Mohammed also posited that government should find a way of assisting the truckers with funding to carry on with their business as obtained in other sectors of the economy going by the important role the truckers play in uplifting and moving the economy of the country forward.

Photo: Alhaji Abdullahi Inuwa Mohammed, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of G.G Global Enterprises Nigeria Limited.

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