By DAPO OLAWUNI
The Committee of Maritime Truck Unions and Association (COMTUA) has said that it has created an insurance scheme for Nigerian truck drivers, truck owners and dockworkers in order to boost their welfare.
Speaking at the inauguration head of operations and other critical positions for the Committee on Saturday, its Board of Trustees Chairman, Mr Aloga Ogbogo said the welfare of the drivers, the dockworkers and truck owners are more paramount, and this is what COMTUA stands for.
Ogbogo revealed that the COMTUA is also set to provide mobile toilets for truck drivers to take their baths and defecate along port corridors, adding that drivers are exposed to harsh conditions for two weeks, trying to gain access into the port.
He lamented that the environment where truck drivers are staying is extremely dirty and polluted. He said the group intends to get officials of the Lagos State Ministry of Environment to start cleaning the port axis because of the drivers.
“In this regard, we have thought it wise to create an insurance scheme for the drivers. The component of the insurance scheme is that there would be an hospital in Apapa where drivers can visit whenever they fall sick”
“Most of these drivers stay in traffic for more than one week, they are faced with mosquito bites, insect bites and different kinds of fever”
“So there would be an hospital around Apapa and Ijora axis, if any driver is sick, we would tell you where to go to, and the hospital would submit its bill to COMTUA Secretariat and we would foot the bills”
“Another component of the insurance package is that most drivers travel and they get accidents which could lead to disabilities or permanent disabilities, the package would also take care of disabilities.
When there is any accident, the insurance companies would compensate the driver”
“If the driver dies, the immediate family would benefit. We also have a package whereby if a driver goes on 30 trips accident-free, he has a benefit” Ogbogo stated
According to him, all these packages are geared towards motivating the drivers to work better.
Ogbogo is also the Executive Secretary of National Association of Road Transport Ownere (NARTO)
said that an average tanker driver is far better in terms of welfare than an average container driver today because he has a better condition of service.
He added that the commitment of the petroleum tanker driver in terms of service is also better than the trailer driver or container drivers.
Also speaking, Co-chairman of BOT of COMTUA, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju cautioned the newly inaugurated officials of the group to thread carefully and not allow selfish interest override overall collective interest of COMTUA.
They should not use their position to cause problems for responsible managing directors of trucking companies and the drivers at the port, adding that they must not receive bribes in the cause of doing their work of clearing traffic gridlock at the port.
“The drivers should not be used as a tout, the Managing Director was once a motor boy, driver, before he became an owner”
“The drivers should not be treated as a slave in their father’s land.
What everyone of us should have at the back of our minds is welfarism, the drivers should not be used as a slave”
“This is why I cue into the project of Mr Chairman that there is need for us to have an insurance, and we have gotten it.
This insurance covers both the drivers and the owners”
“If any driver had an accident or he is arrested, it is the responsibility of the executives.
The law in Lagos state has not been repealed, when a driver has a problem, it is the owner that would face it, but this is the responsibility of COMTUA now, how do we ammend this law so that the owner would not be sent to prison”
Adeyanju who is also the President General of Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) argued that truck drivers should be well remunerated, and there should be a standard of remuneration for them.
He urged COMTUA to standout among other trucking groups in the maritime sector.
“Those holding sensitive positions should be very careful and ensure that the name of COMTUA is not dragged in the mud”
“This is the first time I am partnering with a reputable body, trying to follow the trend of trade unionism.
“We should not introduce thugry into collaboration, it doesn’t portray us in a good manner, when we subject ourselves into carrying cutlasses and guns, these era should not be introduced into COMTUA, I would not be part of any such organisation” he warned
Adeyanju said that his role as Co- chairman of the BOT is now going to be purely advisory since the COMTUA has an active president and several other officers for the day to day running.
The unionist urged the COMTUA executives to be on the same page with the government in order to benefit from the N10billion transport sector palliative approved by President Muhammadu Buhari for transport workers.
He said “You can benefit from this palliative they are giving to the transport workers. This union could be given 30 or 40 trucks, and it would be in the name of COMTUA”