Following the disbandment of the Presidential task force from port access roads, Maritime Stakeholders Forum (MSF) has made an appeal to all relevant government agencies and stakeholders not to allow members of the defunct task force be part of the new port system.
This was made known on Friday last week at the first meeting of MSF which comprises of various Heads of Maritime Organizations and Unions in Lagos.
The Chairman of the Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO), Chief Remi Ogungbemi in a letter to all agencies in the maritime sector stated that the former task force worked in caucus at the detrimental of the other port users.
In the letter addressed to the leadership of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Port Managers, Terminal Managers, titled “Passionate Appeal”, read in part: “On behalf of Maritime Truck Owners, I hereby humbly and passionately appeal that you kindly replace all the Security Agencies under Presidential Task Team with Port Authority Police to work with LASTMA along the port access roads.”
The group lamented that the activities of the Task Team have become unwholesome, noting that sharp practices are being encouraged via preferential treatment and bribery.
“They are in caucus. Members of the caucus enter port freely while others are languishing in agony and pain. Please kindly do your findings on this. Our call for withdrawal of the task force services is in protest against the anomalies,” the letter read.
Also speaking at the meeting, the Chairman of the occassion, Alhaji Salami Ishola lamented that stakeholders in the industry have been treated unfairly by various government traffic policies despite their contribution to the growth of the economy.
Ishola stressed that the objective of the forum is to make all stakeholders come up with creative ideas and speak with one voice in the bid to address the traffic woes on the port corridor.
“We are here today to see how we can come up with creative ideas on how to move the industry forward. We have been fighting differently without achieving any desirable outcome against the adverse effects of government traffic policies but we are too disunited. It is high time we come together to have a common position that we can present to the Authority as our position in the best interest of the industry. United we stand, divided we fall,” he stated.
Participants at the meeting also shared their thoughts on the possible ways to address the issues leading to chaos on the port access roads.
“We have to jointly say we don’t need Task Force any longer. Police Force was created to ensure the safety of lives and property. When there is crisis, they can come to our aid. They should allow the industry players to do their business the way it should be done,” Okafor Stephen said.
Another stakeholder, Mr. Emmanuel Onyeme said: “The Shipping Companies and Terminal Operators are ripping us. Ports and Cargo terminal do not have any space where they drop empties. It is time MSC removed their holding bay from Port and Cargo. MSC should give us a different place for holding bays.”
“If the manual call-up system is not working now, no automation system can work. I think at the appropriate time we have to take our business and destiny in our hands. We need action to enforce the process to work,” Adeyinka Aroyewun said.
“We are aiming for TTP so that there will be lesser human interference in our business. Meanwhile, TTP is having fundamental issues such as number of garages that have been accredited. Can this sustains the business? We should have stakeholders amongst those who decide on what goes on in our business,” Shonibare Itunu said.
On his part, the President of National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Chief Increase Uche said that the group should approach Shippers’ Council with its plans and harmonize with NSC since they are the leading government agency in the industry.
The MSF maiden meeting was attended by representatives from the following organizations and unions: NARTO, ANLCA, AMATO, NAGAFF, LPAN, ANDLARD LTD, RASHFUNK NIG LTD, GDNL TERMINAL, COTOAN, COMTUA, SHIPPERS’ ASSOCIATION, MOB etc.