By Victor Ahiuma-Young
Transport unions in the maritime sector, on the platform of Council of Maritime Transports Unions and Association, COMTUA, has given panacea to protracted gridlock on Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, blaming extortion by security operatives, terminal operators, shipping companies, among others for the menace.
The body, at a briefing in Lagos, called of the Federal Government to prevail on the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, and Nigeria Shippers Council, NSC, to set up a call-up committee comprising the NPA, Port Police, COMTUA and terminal operators to handle the call-up system for the two major truck transit terminals.
COMTUA is made up of Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners, NARTO; Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, MWUN; Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria, RTEAN; National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW (Heavy Duty Section); Containerised Truck Owners Association of Nigeria, COTOAN, and Amalgamated Containers Trucks Owners Association, ACTOA.
At a briefing in Lagos, the unions lamented their frustration over difficulties and man-hour loss to access and depart Apapa and Tin Can ports.
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Speaking on behalf of the executive members of the Board of Trustee, BOT, management team and members of COMTUA, its Acting Chairman, Mr. Aloga Ogbogbo, informed that “council was formed to address the challenges bedevilling haulage businesses in the industry more especially in Lagos State (Apapa and Tin Can Ports).
“The harassment intimidation, extortion and manhandling of our members (especially drivers) became unbearable and worrisome that the council took to the last option to protest against the military joint task force through a letter to the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
“The petition led to the disbandment of the Military Task Force and brought in the current Presidential Task Team, PTT.
“However, the PPT team has done a lot, but much still needed to be done in solving the current traffic gridlock in Apapa and Tin Can Island corridor.
“The traffic gridlock within the port corridors continue to persist because of the shunting of trucks that are not on call-up with the aid of security operatives, the preferential treatment given to the highest bidders by the security operatives, the inefficiency of the shipping companies and terminal operators in handling empty containers, especially systems break down, and lack of space to stack empty containers.
“Other challenges include lack of functional holding bay by shipping companies for the empty containers, refusal of shipping companies to bring in sweeper vessels to evacuate empty containers and delay by the construction company in the construction of the Apapa Oshodi Expressway.
“While we urge the Federal Government to prevail on the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA and Nigeria Shippers Council, NSC, to set up a call-up committee comprising of the NPA, Port Police, COMTUA and terminal operators to handle the call-up system for the two major truck transit terminals.
“It should be a policy of the government that all trucks going to the ports must enter the transit truck terminals before accessing the ports. All defaulters should be severely sanctioned.”