How I Bought A Truck For N50,000 – Inuwa
Alhaji Inuwa Mohammed is a Chieftain at the Nigerian Association of
Road Transport Owners (NARTO). In this exclusive interview with MMS
Plus he speaks on some pertinent issues affecting truck operations at
the nation’s ports. Enjoy it:
The Electronic truck call-up system introduced by Nigerian Ports
Authority (NPA) but the gains haven’t been realized especially at the
Tin Can Island port. Last week, the Acting Managing Director, Mr.
Mohammed Bello-Koko has described ETO as his biggest concern. How
would you rate ETO?
One thing I see that is playing out in the maritime industry is that
some group of cabals has continued to play on people’s intelligence.
In the past it was said that the truckers are the problem on the port
access road. Later, it was adjudged to be an issue of the bad roads,
among other things but despite the fact the roads were worse some
years back, truckers were operating better compared to the situation
today that the road is about 85 percent completed.
For the past 10 years, we’ve been having traffic congestion. We didn’t
have truck parks but because of the challenges regarding access to the
port, the federal government has been able to designate some truck
parks. The Lilypond transit park and the new one constructed for Tin
Can Island port. Lilypond to serve truckers going to Apapa port and
some industrial areas around the port while the one at Tin Can to
serve the Tin Can axis because it can take in about 400 trucks and
it’s a transit park. The idea isn’t for trucks to be stationed there,
but for easy movement of trucks into the port. I was hoping they would
make use of the truck parks, but from my observation, I’m beginning to
see politics play out.
If NPA wants to succeed with the electronic truck call-up system (ETO)
at this stage, I’ll advise them not to station any truck from Mile 2
to Tin Can. Every truck with required documents should move from their
garage to Tin Can Transit Park then from there they move to the
There are more than 50 garages along the Oshodi-Apapa expressway
belonging to individuals and private organizations, why can’t they
liaise with the Tin Can truck park to get approval so that trucks with
required documentation can move directly from their garage to the
Every truck you see that parks on that route pay security agents some
fees. We have only one turning point which is Coconut. NPA should
collaborate with the Lagos state government to give marching orders to
Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) that no truck should
be seen on that road except the truck has a mechanical fault which
they can prove and any truck they sight without the required
documentation should be sent back. There is no need for the
checkpoints because it’ll only give room for extortion.
How much do these security agents collect for trucks to park on the road?
Well, it depends on the area. Some collect N1,000 or N2,000 to park
overnight. This fee is different from the touts that also have to be
settled. Despite this, the truck driver won’t have a good rest because
he must always be vigilant so that he won’t be robbed or have his
truck vandalized while he is asleep.
I’ll advise acting NPA Managing Director to have a good synergy with
other government agencies. If the former Executive Secretary of
Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Mr. Hassan Bello was given the
chance he could have solved these challenges but he couldn’t get
support from other agencies.
Also, the reality is that whenever there’s an attempt to bring change
or bring sanity to a situation, there are always people who would
resist because they’re benefiting from the old order. Bello-Koko
should listen to advice and analyze it to see which is going to be of
benefit to the industry. There are numerous challenges at the port and
although there are genuine attempts to solve them, some people are
also trying not to make it work. You’ll see what is going to happen
because a majority of them don’t have the interest of the country at
Several Nigerian exports especially agro- export that should earn the
country foreign exchange, are being returned by foreign nations on
account of expiration attributable to Nigeria’s port access troubles.
What’s your opinion about this?
Export should be the top priority for Nigerians and the government,
even the President has said this on several occasions. Prioritizing
exports will encourage Nigerian farmers and even some of importers to
join that venture and consequently save our foreign reserve. We should
boost our agricultural produce and not to be content as an
The challenge we are having, if you look at the perishable items, they
stay longer on the roads before gaining access into the port and at
times when having the access they also face some impediments inside
the port. Perishable items have a short lifespan, so they get spoilt
and are already in bad shape because of the delays on the port access
NPA ought to have synergy with the export groups and designate certain
truck parks to facilitate exports. Such trucks shouldn’t be subjected
to the numerous challenges that other trucks face when accessing the
ports. if that synergy is there, it would go a long way to curb the
cases of spoilt export resulting from delays on the port access roads
or delays at the ports.
Last month, NPA also introduced a truck standardization initiative for
trucks doing business at the seaports. How has that regulation fared?
The initiative is a good one because it is about safety and standards
of trucks operating in the system. However, it is important to note
that a standard truck and safety compliant truck is an asset to the
As a truck owner, I know that one of the challenges leading to damaged
trucks, is the state of the roads and that problem has been addressed
to a large extent, when we talk about the port access roads. We no
longer have a situation where trucks fall daily on the port access
roads because of the road reconstruction.
However, the problem of truck damages as a result of overzealous
government agencies and hoodlums remain. These people damage truck
head lights, rear lights, side mirrors, among other parts when a truck
driver refuses to give them bribes.
I encourage NPA and the leadership of the security agencies on the
port access roads to address the issue of extortion and their agents
destroying truck parts.
Let me also seize this opportunity to beckon on NPA to remove the
monetary requirement attached to the sensitization scheme. Most
truckers see this as another opportunity for the government to
generate money because when we talk about safety standards and NPA is
collecting money, it is important to remind the Authority that the
Vehicle Inspection Office (VIO) also collects roadworthy certificate
fees. NPA collecting fees for this process amounts to double taxation
for the same service that VIO offers.
If you look at the tankers operating in the oil sector, you would find
that they have better trucks, but it wasn’t always like that. The
process of achieving this is a gradual one and there is a need to
provide funding opportunities.
A new Executive Secretary has recently been appointed at Nigerian
Shippers’ Council (NSC), what agenda would you set for him from a
truck owner’s perspective?
I expect the new NSC boss to perform well given the competence and
support of the staff at the Council. I know that there are very
serious, knowledge and patriotic Nigerians at Shippers’ Council.
During the era of Mr. Hassan Bello, I got to know some of them based
on their reactions and actions to sanitize the port environment from
the position of truckers.
The new Executive Secretary of NSC should emulate the approach of his
predecessor which was to have regular engagement with stakeholders to
the extent that he understood the problems of a truck owner like he
was one or the problems of a freight agent like he also practiced the
One of the challenges in the port sector is the lack of synergy among
government agencies especially those in-charge or the port access
roads. This is a problem that Hassan Bello tried to solve but he
couldn’t. Until this synergy is attained, extortion would continue on
the port access roads and this will have economic impact on the sector
and the nation at large. The new NSC boss should take this as a
challenge and also seek to outdo his predecessor which isn’t a small
task because Hassan Bello performed excellently.
Talking about Mr. Hassan Bello’s performance at NSC, one of the things
he tried to achieve is uniform cost benchmark for trucking services at
the ports to have some level of predictability. That didn’t seem to
work, even though most stakeholders agree it’s a good initiative, what
There are several things that affect cost and make it difficult to set
uniform prices. One of such things is the operating environment, which
is still chaotic. The electronic truck call-up system was an attempt
to create an enabling environment but it hasn’t worked. Until
recently, the port access roads have been in a dilapidated state.
So, addressing these issues would provide a platform that would
support uniform trucking rates. Let’s also remember that this business
is driven by the market forces of demand and supply. Higher demands
would lead to higher prices but an enabling environment would support
a benchmark and that is something that we worked closely with Mr.
Hassan Bello to achieve before he left.
Trucking business is also affected by the spare-part market that is
imported and most of these items are no longer durable. The cost of
diesel and other lubricants have continued to increase yearly and
sometimes it increases severally in one year. The issue of extortion
has to be eliminated because it also affects the cost of trucking.
On a litter note, why did you choose to venture into truck haulage and
when did you make your first N1million?
I made my first N1million several years ago. I really can’t remember
the year but I made that money in this trucking business.
Transport business was never my plan from the onset, but I found
myself here because my late father was a transport operator
specialized in selling parts of trucks. I wasn’t interested in the
business until and I relocated to Lagos and began assisting my father
with the repairs.
I started really small and God blessed me through the blessings and
legacy of my parents. I began saving N100 or N50 from repairs with my
dad. At one time there was a big contract for repairs and I got huge
money from that.
At one point I realized I had enough money to buy a truck head but my
father didn’t allow me. He had bought eight truck heads from someone
in Warri, repaired them and put them up for sale. The last truck was a
unique case because a man paid initial deposit and didn’t come back to
bring the balance the next day as he promised. It took him over six
months to bring the balance and I recall that I had raised the money
to buy the truck from my savings. Since I was aware of the price my
father quoted for the truck, I approached my father and offered to pay
him cash for the truck so he could refund the other man. My father
said that he wouldn’t sell it to me. I wasn’t happy with his response
and I wondered why my father refused to sell to me. My father said he
would only give it to me if the man returned to say he wasn’t buying
anymore. He later called me and explained that he had given the man
his word to keep the truck and he offered to support me to acquire
another truck. I later understood that it wasn’t a good decision to
sell that truck to me.
Several years later, after my father died, I decided to buy a truck
but someone persuaded the seller not to give me the truck because I
priced badly. The man told me N80,000 for the truck-head and I priced
N40,000 but his friend said I priced badly and asked the seller not to
agree. I was still standing around confused at the development when
one of my father’s friends walked up to us. The other man was also a
dealer and he had hoped that if he facilitated the deal, he would get
commission. When he learnt what happened he turned to the seller and
said either you like it or not, you will collect N50,000 and said to
me, Abdullahi bring N50,000. He told the seller that if he couldn’t
afford to dash me the truck on account of my father’s role in
developing their trucking business. This man facilitated the deal,
stating that he would never forget my father’s good deeds. The seller
was shocked to know who my father was and he recalled that he stayed
in the same compound with my dad several years ago. The following day
I paid N50,000 in cash.
The truck dealer also asked me if I had truck body and I said no. He
gave me truck body and I paid in installments at N2,000 weekly until I
completed the payment. That was how I started my trucking business.