By DAPO OLAWUNI
Union of truck owners in Nigeria called Coalition of Maritime Truckers Union and Associations (COMTUA) have said that they would shut down Ports and Cargo Terminal owned by Sifax Group, as well as other port terminal operators who fails to operate according to the required standard operating procedures.
This is even as the truckers have accused Ports and Cargo Terminal of refusing to accept back empty containers, especially those belonging to MSC Shipping.
Speaking with DAILY TREND NEWS, spokesman for COMTUA, Alhaji Inuwa Muhammed said the union would equally direct all truck drivers to boycott lifting of MSC containers.
COMTUA is a coalition of six existing unions in the maritime sector, namely Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, Amalgamation of Container Truck Owners Association, and Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners.
Others are Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria, National Union of Road Transport Workers (Heavy duty section) and Association of Maritime Truck Owners.
Alhaji Inuwa lamented that truck drivers are being extorted to the tune of N180,000 before they can drop empty containers.
He alleged that Ports and Cargo Terminal directed truckers to drop their empty containers at Brawal Terminal located at Kirikiri in Apapa, but that demurrage on the empty containers are now being charged and collected from truck drivers instead of the shipping lines.
According to him, the shipping companies are now using trucks as their holding bays, adding that trucks bearing MSC containers have been stranded for more than a month without access to the port.
Inuwa also accused Ports and Cargo of giving an instruction to the Presidential Task Team not to allow any MSC container to access the port at Tin Can Island Port.
Speaking, he said “Shipping companies are now asking demurrage from trucks, we are the ones that suppose to ask them demurrage”
“As I speak with you now, we have my truck carrying MSC containers for the past one month because they cannot access the port, orders have been given to the Presidential Task Team that they must not allow MSC container into the port, Ports and Cargo are not ready to accept them”
“At the same time, we learnt that SIFAX are operating a terminal at Brawal kirikiri, they are the people that supposed to receive the empty containers, but as I speak, truckers are being made to pay N180,000 to drop empty containers, is it the responsibility of the truck owner?
There is a lot of insincerity going on at the port”
“In COMPTUA, we are articulating ourselves and computing all these challenges so that we would present it to the relevant authorities”
“We are of the opinion that after giving the relevant regulatory agencies time to do their work, if things did not go the way we want, we plan to start picketing all the errant shipping companies and terminal operators that do not meet up with the standard operating procedure”
“On the challenges with MSC, we may decide to stop our members from lifting MSC containers from any terminal that is giving us problems” he said
The unionist also have some advise for the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) before the completion of the ongoing construction of the port access road at Tin Can Island Port.
He said “What we expect the regulatory agencies to do before the completion of the Tin Can Island axis of the port access road; let NPA complete the electronic call up system for trucks.
“All private parks that were certified should be integrated into the system so that there would be feeders, either tin can truck park or Lillypond. Shipping companies and terminal operators should be giving NPA report on their day to day operations”