Haulage operators at Nigerian ports have agreed to slash their fares by 30 per cent as part of their contributions towards cushioning the effect of the coronavirus pandemic in the sector.
This agreement was announced by the General Coordinator Council of Maritime Truck Unions and Association, Stephen Okafor, at a meeting with the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Hassan Bello.
Okafor agreed, after being prevailed upon by the Shippers’ Council boss that the truck owners should lower the price to meet present realities.
He said the NSC must, however, call an expanded meeting after the Covid-19 pandemic to draw up uniform freight rates for all truck owners.
He said, “On pricing, I agree, there are several times we have met on freight rate standardisation and the Shippers Council came up with rate but they were not enforced. We have so many unions in the industry so I think we need to call a larger meeting to come up with a uniform freight rate.
“Also, we are not against coming down on the pricing and I think I agree that is part of our own contribution.”
Bello said the truck owners must sacrifice and contribute to the sustainability of the nation’s economy during the Covid-19 crisis.
According to him, the nation doesn’t need astronomical or unrealistic freight rate as the ports need to be decongested.
Bello said the reduction in the cost was a form of sacrifice from the truck owners, adding that the agency would further engage the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency and the Nigerian Ports Authority on reduction of their charges.
He said, “We want you to look at the cost because everyone is making a sacrifice, the terminal operators, shipping companies have made sacrifice and we are looking at NPA and NIMASA so that they will reduce their cost during this time as their contributions to the Nigerian economy
“Please don’t allow Nigeria economy to be oat standstill and after the Covid-19 we don’t want it to be written that it is owners of trucks that let the nation down.o
“We are stakeholder-sensitive, we appeal to your patriotic sentiment to keep people in employment, operate at the port and let’s clear the cargoes. Right now, there are vessels lining up to come into the port to discharge but there is no space.
“So, I appeal to you to look at the cost because we don’t need astronomical or unrealistic cost and these trucks must have easier access to come in and out in a very organised manner to take already available cargoes.”
Bello further stated that since the council and NPA had both secured storage and rent-free period for importers, the haulage operators should also ensure movement of the cargoes out of the port.