…204 trucks brought in through Calabar Port killing us … Truck Drivers
By Ike Uchechukwu, CALABAR
Association of Dump Truckers in Cross River/ Akwa Ibom state on Wednesday blocked the Calabar Itu road in protest of what they described as an intrusion of Multinationals in haulage activities adding that Nigerians have enough capacity to handle business in the sector effectively.
The agitation is coming on the heels of the importation of over 400 Dump trucks by an Oil and Gas Company through the Calabar Port a few months ago which has led the company to renege on their earlier agreement with the association stressing that they were violating local content laws.
According to the Association, the move by the Oil firm has not only rendered many Nigerians jobless but has made many dump truck drivers redundant with the importation of over 400 trucks as well as employment of drivers.
Over 200 members of the ADT in a peaceful protest, blocked the busy Calabar/Itu road to drive home their grievances on the multinationals who have paid deaf ears to their plight.
Some of the drivers were carrying placard with various including, Sterling Oil and Gas is oppressive” “204 trucks brought in through Calabar Port killing us”, Multinationals not interested in locals” amongst others.
Addressing journalists, Chairman of ADT Akwa Ibom/ Cross River, Mr. Micheal Asuquo particularly alleged Indians and Chinese nationals over the breach of the local content law.
They accused the oil and gas company of taking over their jobs by importing trucks and also employing drivers adding that where there were supposed to employ at least four persons, they only take two, which has rendered many of their members jobless.
He further lamented that the local content aspect of our laws has been completed neglected noting that the trucks that the said Multinationals were importing were well above specifications for Nigerian roads as the trucks were between 120 tonnes and above.
His words: “We were handling haulage aspect of their business but they, especially Sterling oil, just came overnight and asked us to stop.
“We were however surprised that the company went and imported over 400 trucks to carry on with the haulage that we were handling before they stopped us.”
Asuquo lamented that the action of the multinationals have thrown many of their members into labour market and also make it difficult to meet with their loan obligations.
“We had an understanding ( agreement)with Sterling Oil and Gas and others which made some of us to obtain facilities from banks to buy over 200 trucks for haulage aspect of the business.
“We were carrying this out diligently before they came to tell us to stop only for them to be doing the haulage themselves.
“With their action, they have not only breached the local content law, but they have also inflicted untold hardship on our members.
“You will agree with me that they are preparing the ground for restiveness which will invariably lead to insecurity if not carefully handled,” he stated.
The association appealed to the relevant authority and the federal government to wade into the matter.
“We are asking that the law of the land should take its course. We need help urgently too.
“We have written to the local content board and while we always their response, we decided to stage this peaceful protest for Nigerians to know what is happening,” he bemoaned.