By Victor Ahiuma-Young
Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, MWUN, has named four shipping companies it said were responsible for the intractable gridlock on Oshodi-Apapa Expressway and has issued a 21-day ultimatum to the Federal and state governments to call the affected companies to order, failing which members will withdraw their services from the nation’s ports.
According to a statement by the President-General of the Union, Prince Adewale Adeyanju, the companies are MAERSK LINE, PIL(Pacific International Lines), MSC(Mediterranean Shipping Company, S.A.) and MOL (Mitsui Osk Lines).
He accused them of not having holding bays in absolute disregard of regulations and standards which provide that a shipping company must have a holding bay before beginning operations.
The Union claimed the said shipping companies deliberately delay trucks laden with containers to attract demurrage daily from already over-burdened union members, truck owners and their drivers.
The statement read in part: “It is with a sense of duty and responsibility that we wish to bring to the public space the inimical activities of some shipping industry.
“Nigerians, especially Lagosians, are living witnesses to the continuous pains, danger, suffering, and intractable gridlock that heavy-duty trucks have been causing over the years on the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, with its negative economic consequences.
“We cannot continue like this.
“As a major stakeholder in the maritime sector, whose members and activities have been negatively affected by the gridlock on the access roads to the ports, especially in Tin-Can and Apapa ports, we have painstakingly studied the causes of the gridlock and have identified the shipping companies responsible for the gridlock.
“These shipping companies include MAERSK LINE, PIL, MSC and MOL. They deliberately keep container-laden trucks as means of attracting demurrage payment daily from our already over-burdened members, truck owners and their drivers.
“They operate along Oshodi-Apapa Expressway and do not have holding bays in absolute disregard to regulations and standards which provide that a shipping company must have a holding bay before opening for business.
“Therefore, these companies have converted the major express road to their holding bays and packing lots, thereby hindering free flow of traffic.
“We are using this medium to call on the Federal Government and state government to, within the next 21 days, call these companies to order and compel them to stop using their private businesses to cause public nuisance.
“If at the end of the 21 days notice the appropriate government agencies fail to address our demand, the Union shall have no other option than take appropriate and necessary industrial action to protect our members and other road users such as truck owners, drivers and the public at large.
“As a responsible social partner, we urge all concerned government regulatory agencies to take urgent action and call the aforementioned companies to order, for the betterment of Nigerians, port users and to forestall any action by our members.”