Truckers condemn monetary provisions, multiple extortions
By Yusuf Odejobi
The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has refloated the implementation of the Minimum Safety Standards (MSS) for trucks in a bid to end the incessant breakdown of trucks on the port access corridor, a move that would cost over N20,000 per truck.
However, stakeholders and truckers operating in Lagos ports have alleged that NPA is more concerned about generating revenue through the certification exercise than ensuring trucks are actually roadworthy and meet safety standard requirements.
Speaking to our correspondent, the Chairman of the Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO), Chief Remi Ogungbemi faulted NPA for the attachment of money emphasising that if the Authority is really concerned about pursuing safety of trucks then it must remove the fees attached.
Chief Remi also revealed that although the official fee to acquire the safety standard certificate is N10, 000 per truck, truck owners spend over N20, 000 amid the rigorous process to acquire the certificate.
“We met with the NPA management last week and we all agreed safety is paramount for all. Hence, our reason to even want to be part of the implementation process so that it can be holistic but we insist that they must remove the monetary attachment so that our members will not be thinking we’re benefiting from the money and the reason for our involvement.”
“NPA says it’s a yearly payment but why must the government wait for truck owners to pay? What are they using the money for? If they tell us the money is meant to provide transportation logistics such as toying trucks we’ll understand or rather we have access to the account the money is being paid into so we can use it to provide necessary amenities around the port corridor. But where is the money going to? is it for the benefit of the truckers?” He queried.
AMATO boss also called on the federal government to remove the law enforcement officers on the port access roads or call them to order to stop damaging essential components of trucks for their personal gains.
He lamented that the menace has got to the extent that truck drivers now put their number plates in their cabin.
Corroborating AMATO’s views on the money attached to the safety certificate, a chieftain at Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), Alhaji Inuwa Mohammed said “Officially it is #10, 000 but at the end of the day you’ll spend more than that because of the Nigerian factor.”
He criticized NPA for hiding under the MSS to generate revenue from operators who are already grossed extorted in the port community.
Inuwa said although an MoU agreement has been signed between NPA, Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) and truckers to ensure trucks are roadworthy and keep to standards, truck owners have been clamouring for the removal of the safety standard certificate fee by NPA.
His words: “About 4 years back there was a partnership with Vehicle Inspection Office (VIO) to come on board then to check roadworthy trucks but along the line the exercise became a double taxation in the sense that VIO was charging for road worthiness certificate which NPA was also charging same for standardisation of vehicle.”
“The VIO fee was N4, 000 to be paid every six months which makes a total of N8000 yearly and NPA was also charging N10, 000 making a total of N18,000 in a year, so we debated and dropped the VIO payment then but the NPA fee was not dropped”
The minimum safety standards, according to NPA stipulates that all trucks doing business inside the port must go through a safety audit and be certified as fit-for-purpose.
The safety inspection covers items that include the truck head, driver and vehicle particulars, trailer carriage unit, tyres, brake system, lifting jack, vehicle lights, driving mirror and speed limiter. Absence or defect of any parts and accessories will disqualify a truck from certification.