By Isaac Anumihe
Baring last minutes discussion with the Federal Government, business activities in the Apapa and Tin Can ports would be grounded today with the withdrawal of services by truck owners and freight forwarders.
Under the auspices of Amalgamation of Trucking Associations with Other Stakeholders in Maritime Industry (ATOSMI), the workers are protesting the deplorable condition of Apapa roads.
According to a statement by the chairman of the amalgamation, Comrade Victor Nnyosum, the joint body resolved to withdraw its services due to the deplorable state of Tin Can/Apapa roads which they claimed had been responsible for the destruction of trucks, goods and even loss of lives.
Their resolution was also sent to the Director General of NIMASA, Dr Dakuku Perterside; Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Hassan Bello; Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hajia Hadiza Bala Usman Western zone, Area Commandant, Area ‘B’ Police and Port police.
According to the aggrieved workers, the withdrawal of service will continue until the Apapa roads are fixed by the government. In the same vein, the National Publicity Secretary of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Dr Kayode Farinto, noted that ANLCA was in full support of the withdrawal of services.
Recall that the same notice of strike was sent to the government by both ANLCA and National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) prompting the Comptroller General of Customs, Colonel Hameed Ali, to go to Lagos to appease the groups.
But the National president of ANLCA, Comrade Olayiwola Shitu, had told Ali that the action of the associations would only be suspended if the government attends to its plights.
The founder of NAGAFF, Dr Boniface Aniebonam, in a recent interview, had restated that the associations merely suspended. “Those who know NAGAFF will agree with me that we are not into such unruly behavior. So 21 days notice is to draw the attention of the government to come out and begin to look at the issues as it were because we are talking about Nigeria; it is not a personal thing. It is for the good of the Nigerian people. So, we gave a notice to the Controller-General of Customs; we also held a meeting with the MD of NPA; we met with the Shippers’ Council. The last meeting was with the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transport under the mandate of the Presidency to hold the meeting with us.
“Issues were raised in writing and the segment of allegation on Nigeria Customs, Nigerian ports, terminal operators, Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON), National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Maritime Police, down the line in each column; we made an observation. Having said those things, we proffered solutions on what should be done. It was not targeted at anybody; it was for the good of the port.
“The port is going through reforms. The government is targeting efficiency, and productive port that is competitive. It is in view of that, that when we met with the Ministry of Transport as directed by Mr. President, we handed them a document duly signed by NAGAFF and ANCLA.
“We learnt that the document has been transferred to the Vice President who was given the mandate to look into it. That document is also with the Customs, NPA; as we copied everybody. We want to see our port functional. This is not the time to blame anybody. So another 21 days notice has been given to the government after meeting with the Transport Ministry to enable us engage ourselves frankly. Just watch what will happen” Aniebonam, said.