Truck drivers’ strike causes congestion at Lagos ports - PUNCH
BY Anna Okon
The feud between truck drivers and officials of the Nigerian Navy and the Nigerian Ports Authority is causing serious congestion at the ports, with thousands of containers unable to exit the terminals.
The truck drivers, who had earlier threatened a strike over what they termed extortion by the officials handling the truck call up system at the ports, embarked on a sit at home action on Friday.
Our correspondent learnt that the action had led to as much as 6,000 containers unable to exit the ports.
It was also gathered that the President, Association of Maritime Truck Owners, Remi Ogungbemi, was summoned by the Federal Government over the refusal of members of the association to go back to work.
Confirming this, a member of the Joint Council of the Seaport Truck Operators, Godwin Ikeji, told our correspondent on Tuesday that he was in Abuja for a meeting.
The NPA is currently in talks with the truck drivers. Our correspondent gathered that the talks had been ongoing since last Thursday.
The agency in a statement on Monday urged the truck drivers to exercise caution, adding that there were lots of benefits in the truck call up system and that the system was challenged due to failure of shipping companies and other stakeholders to comply with the directive for the usage of holding bays, which was given in November 2017 and for which some of them had been sanctioned.
“The call up system is a good system used the world over to ensure efficiency. It was to ensure that containers have faster turnaround time from the ports and do not congest the ports and ensuring that trucks are not parked in inappropriate places around the ports and other areas of the Lagos metropolis,” the statement read in part.
On the allegation of bribery against its officials, the Assistant General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications, NPA, Mallam Suwaid Isah, pledged that the agency was investigating this and that any official found culpable would be punished in accordance with the provisions of the law.
The spokesperson for the Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria, Mr Bolaji Akinola, said that the situation was capable of leading to the imposition of congestion surcharge running into more than $120m per annum on Nigerian importers by international shipping lines.
He said in a statement on Tuesday, “The TinCan Island and Apapa ports have been brought to their knees. As we speak, less than 50 containers go out of the port daily as against more than 700 that used to go out.
“Apart from the thousands of containers trapped in the ports, the dreaded Apapa gridlock is back after three months of respite and sanity.”