By Kenneth Jukpor
Truck owners under the aegis of Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO) will commence an indefinite strike action tomorrow to protest continuous extortion along the port corridors.
AMATO revealed this in a press statement signed by its Chairman, Chief Remi Ogungbemi at the weekend.
According to the group, the decision to withdraw their services is as a result of the growing rate of extortion, “indiscriminate arrest / impounding of container trucks, the imposition of outrageous lines ranging between N150,000 and N350,000 depending on the mood of the billing officers.”
“All of these happen under the pretext that the trucks were wrongly parked or when the truck broke down. We are left with no other alternative than to withdraw the services of container trucks until above mentioned issues are addressed and mutually agreeable decisions reached.”
AMATO lamented that there is currently no organized method of regulating the passage of trucks to loading points as the access is currently based on the trucker’s ability to bribe their way through to the port or petroleum tank farms for loading.
The association, however, stressed that it had started sensitizing members on a new truck appointment system which could serve as a solution to resolving the traffic gridlock and indiscriminate parking of trucks on roads and bridges.
“As a mark of solidarity with our colleagues in petroleum trucking sector, we have resolved to also withdraw our services starting from Tuesday the 11th of August, 2020. We also suffer the same fate in the hands of the security operatives along the access roads to the ports and within the state,” the group added.
Reacting to this notice of withdrawal of service issued by AMATO, a freight forwarding group, Africa Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics of Nigeria (APFFLON), has aligned itself with truckers in
Speaking with MMS Plus on this development, the President of APFFLON, Mr. Frank Ogunojemite stated that the plight of truckers are real, even as he described the menace of extortion as a challenge to the government’s ease of doing business agenda.
“APFFLON would support AMATO in this fight against extortion. It has become overbearing and APFFLON wouldn’t endorse any system that encourages extortion. APFFLON will remain solidly behind them until this issue of extortion and high level of oppression carried out by officers stationed on ports access roads is addressed,” he said.
Ogunojemite also stressed that it is high time Nigeria gets things right at the ports in view of the impending implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
Noting that Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo said it is important for government agencies to reduce the harassment and extortion of businesses in order for the country to improve on the ease of doing business ranking; Ogunojemite admonished the Presidency to start by addressing this challenge.
Osinbajo said this on Friday last week, at the virtual edition of the Presidential Policy Dialogue hosted by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI).
The APFFLON boss also observed that Nigeria hasn’t addressed other major issues at Nigerian ports itemized by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) during its visit to Nigerian ports for 2020 economic outlook.
The IMF team highlighted extortion, poor port access roads and absence of Single Window as the major impediments to efficient port operations in Nigeria.