By Innocent Orok
The Council Of Maritime Transport Unions and Associations (COMTUA) has demanded a N10b compensation from the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) for the failure and various extortion tactics deployed by its security personnel and the NPA officials to impoverished its members despite the failure of the Electronic Call up system.
The body of truckers has also issued a 21 days ultimatum for the NPA to addressed the myriads of hiccups face by its members or they down tools .
COMTUA had in a letter written to the NPA on the 20th of April 2021 gave a 21 day ultimatum for the Authority to address all the issues raised or they will be forced to take one or both of the options of withdrawing their services or legal action at the courts.
They cried out over the seemingly suffocating business environment that has been occasioned by the various factors that have made the business of trucking a more difficult and less profitable venture over the past few years.
President of the Association, Otunba Olaleye Thompson in a press statement on behalf of the Association by the National Organising Secretary, Comrade Adeyinka Aroyewun dwells on litany of issues that needs immediate and swift response by the NPA.
The Association mulled the apparent lack of transparency in the operation of the ETO inspired call up system by the NPA saying that the management of funds deposited in the wallet of the system puts truckers at the mercy of the officials managing the system and that apparently the cost has risen from N10,000 to N30,000 without any service rendered.
COMTUA alleged that their members with genuine documents are deliberately delayed, while trucks of powerful people are given priority and easy passage to and from the Ports.
Furthermore, the association frowns at the active connivance of officials of the NPA in granting priority attention to some truckers at the detriment of those with genuine documents and getting their trucks to move in and out of the Ports at night with little consideration for laid down procedures.
The Association further mentioned the alleged that, the Senior Special Adviser on CBD to the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Shola Giwa is among the officials who passes priority trucks for between N100,000 to N180,000 per truck. He noted that a petition has been filed to the Governor’s office against the SSA.
Lamenting the high rate of extortion carried out by the officials of the Truck Call up system, saying ” the incidents of extortion rings along the Ports corridors coupled with all the illegal checkpoints/toll gates mounted at various points is milking truckers their hard earn cash”.
The case of demanding for as much as N200,000 from truckers before empty containers are deposited at holding bays is one that has also drawn the ire of the association. Just as hoodlums have constitute themselves into traffic managers. For example, “the ECOMOG boys around the Mile 2 area who are forcefully selling Lagos state bus ticket to truckers at N200 per truck at about five different locations and other avenues of extortion of money from members are also deplored.”
The transport body also condemned the action of the Lagos State Transport Management Agency (LASTMA) for harassing truck drivers and the towing of trucks of their members even at the entry points of the holding bays.
COMTUA advises that the government redoubles it efforts towards infrastructural development to aid easy movement of vehicles and other road users as it tasks the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) to jettison the imposition of the safety sticker through the ETO software as it only serves a financial interest and addresses no real safety concerns.
“Again the action of issuing safety stickers is subjudise as the NPA will be acting in contempt of court, while issuing this sticker.”
The Association noted that in the two weeks that the ETO application was shut down, the N30,000 members paid amounted to a loss of an estimated N225,000,000 over the period. And again the arbitrary increase either formally or informally of the payable fee from N10,000 to N30,000 and all the ETO induced demurrage over the seven weeks of operation amounted to members loosing an estimated N5b in monetary value.
The Association however made a fourteen point demand to the government, some of which are: That NPA/ETO should pay a compensation to the tune of N10b to the association for the losses incurred by members, for the suspension and enforcement on members trucks that were impounded along the Port corridors. Suspension of the safety/administrative stickers, reduction of the cost of application through ETO to a maximum of N2,000 only and the cancellation of the ETO demurrage or at most charge a renewal fee of N500 per truck for delay in the usage of issued tickets.
Others are immediate dismantling of all road blocks and the urgent prosecution of all erring persons adding uncertainty and chaos within the system among others.