The transport owners association and operators have agreed to suspend the two week strike action they embarked upon with immediate effect, while pleading with the Lagos State Government (LASG), to look dispassionately at their plea as contained in a letter earlier sent to the government on the application of the Road Traffic Laws as it concerns trucks in Lagos State.
After a closed door meeting with critical stake holders where the resolution to call off the strike was decided, the larger house of maritime stake holders left to meet with the Lagos State Government on the restriction of truck movement to the hours of 9:00 pm to 6:00am and appeal earnestly to the LASG to considers a one month grace period before enforcement commences.
Some of the conditions stated in the letter to the LASG includes; a request that the Governor of Lagos State Mr. Akunwunmi Ambode should revisit or suspend the enforcement of this aspect of the legal system as our society does not sufficiently guarantee the safety of trucks and its cargo, siting cases of truck hijacking in the broad day light and the menace of ‘Area boys’ which have not been properly checked even in the day as a reason to avoid movement at night.
The association also pointed out that the general condition of infrastructure in our environs is nothing to write home about stating that the roads are in terrible condition particularly the Apapa area, and majorly, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), gate to Ijora, Apapa/Tincan axis of the Oshodi Expressway, which for years has become a death trap to motorist.
According to the association, “ There is no way the restriction of the movement of trucks and trailers to 9hrs a day would not have the effect of low productivity in the industry and the economy of the nation as a whole and due to the reduction in working hours, organizations may decide to downsize their staff strength, taking food off people’s table. Congestion of ports and rush to meet up time restriction might result in other chains of problems.
“Again, 80 per cent of companies and warehouses who are at the receiving end of the cargoes do not operate at night, so to discharge the cargoes would also subject the trucks parking on the roads.
“Absence of garages to take trailers in Lagos is another serious factor militating against safe traffic in Lagos Metropolis and around. Garages in the proximity of the seaports and outskirts of Lagos will be ideal. These would not only take a good number of trucks off roads when necessary, but serves the drivers to check their trucks before lunching them into public highways.”
The association noted that certain restrictions in some areas which have worked in the past but has been jettisoned and can be revisited, are, passage on long bending bridges, which they suggested that barriers can be erected at affected areas so as not to accommodate trailers and trucks.
Also, restriction of movement of trucks and trailers from entering Lagos Island and Lekki area between 7:00pm – 11:00am and 4:00pm – 9:00pm, is also a welcome measure that yielded good results in the past and can be re-introduced.
They appealed against the molestation of drivers on lawful duties by law enforcement agents as it is a common sight to see drivers being pursued with canes and sticks like cows and even occasionally, damaging trucks by these men.
The association agreed to put in place a joint monitoring team to collaborate with relevant government agencies to checkmate cases of rickety vehicles and overloading which will also monitor safety standards and enforce compliance as one of the measures to reduce or stop road accidents involving container trucks.
Another palliative measure is to conduct periodic education of truck operators through workshops, awareness campaign on modern technology, periodic information dissemination through the print media on need for safety on our roads.
Speaking to the press after the meeting which held at the western ports of (NPA), the General Manager, Public Affairs Capt. Iheanacho Ebubeogu said “The truck owners have agreed to call off the strike with immediate effect, they are calling on the LASG to relax the time because they have argued that the receiver is not available for them to make delivery at that time, and they are handling mechanical things that might break down , therefore, they might still be in transit when the time elapses.
“All these contingencies should be considered when looking at their case and they have also said that everything that the LASG has observed that led to all the restrictions has resulted to a joint committee that comprises of all the associations and they will soon be inaugurated. They need one month to look closely at all the issues to know what to do and they want a forum with the government to let them know what their own part is, so that they can do it and vice versa. So that is the situation.” He said.
Iheanacho added that a small committee has been constituted to go to the ministry of transportation to tell them on the resolution of the meeting which is, the suspension of the strike and the grace the associations are asking for, so as to tidy up their house.
Some of the organizations that were at the meeting and part of the resolution includes; the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN), Apapa Bonded Terminal Limited(ABTL), National Association of Road Truck Owners(NARTO), Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO) ,Nigeria Police Force (NPF), Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) , among others.