By Favour Nnabugwu
The National Association of Road Transport Owners, NARTO, has raised alarm over the hijack of their trucks by heavily armed men who escape with them fully loaded with petrol and siphon the fuel and set them ablaze afterwards.
The drivers, who expressed their concern over the worrisome development in Kaduna recently, decried the great losses they suffer in the hands of armed men who also put the lives of their members at risk.
NARTO Secretary, Kaduna State, Alhaji Babangida Jaafaru, said the development is the reason tankers drivers are reluctant to move their trucks to trailer parks. He added that there is no security on ground to assure the safety of their trucks, and as such will continue to park on the highways near communities for safety.
According to him, “The major issue is the security. You cannot expect a driver to park his truck without proper security. We are facing challenges of truck hijack. Armed men hijack our trucks, take the product and set the trucks ablaze and that is one of the worries and that is why tanker drivers are not parking inside the trailer parks.”
Jaafaru also said, “In as much as NARTO appreciates the effort of the Federal Road Management Agency, FERMA for securing a large space like this for our tankers to park, they deserve to be commended but security for us is key to our business and services.”
He added, “We have tried our best to ensure that we evacuate all the tankers that park indiscriminatingly along the roadside to move to the park, but the major challenge there is the issue of insecurity.”
The Managing Director of FERMA, Mr. Gabriel Amuchi, told journalists while on inspection of work done along Abuja/Kaduna road, including one of the trailer parks, said the agency is providing the necessary facilities for the comfort of the drivers.
“We have provided the shade, the toilet and then lighting; we agreed to move in stages and as they come in the other facilities that are required would be put in place. It is a very massive location and all the facilities cannot be put in one day. So they have agreed and we have gone beyond that and they have started parking.”
Though Amuchi did not disclose the amount so far invested in the parking lot, he added that “the new strategy of the agency is to make sure the drivers parked in the lots provided.
“They (drivers) have agreed and we have gone beyond that and they have started parking. And like we told you, they have moved all of them here, but the threat is insecurity and then they started reacting to insufficient security. We would address that and make sure they have enough security.
“FERMA has acquired these trailer parks in more than seven locations across the country. We want to use this as a model to commence the parking of tankers in a safe place like this and evacuate them from federal highways. This will improve safety on our roads, and reduce the effects of leakages of petroleum products on the roads that lead to road failures. We are optimistic that in a very short time from now this one will be operative and others will follow.”
Amuchi continued, “We also have another one near, Maraba/Jos, Lopanta that we have fenced; there is one in Akinyele in Oyo state which we have also fenced. And just recently, we acquired a place in Umunede in Delta state, which we are making arrangement to clear. We also have at Obolafor where we have this kind of challenge.
“What FERMA is doing now is to pave the shoulders of the highways so as to accommodate trucks that will stop for a brief period before proceeding or before entering the parking lot.
“The project is intended to take trailers and tankers off the highway. When the trailers moved in to the parking lot, we started developing the park to have facilities that will provide light accommodation for transit drivers, shopping malls, places to service their trucks, water and lighting.
“And we carried NARTO and the Petroleum Tanker Drivers, PTD along to ensure that they assist the federal government in encouraging and persuading their members to use the parking lots provided for them,” he said.