By DAPO OLAWUNI
There are indications that the frequent clashes betyween port truckers and the Lagos State Cargo & Transport Committee (LASTCOC) at the Tin Can Island Port may throw a wheel in the spanner of an existing collaboration between the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) and other truck owners associations.
The Union recently announced a collaboration with National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO) and Nexus Association of Maritime Transport Operators (NAMTOP)
Speaking with journalists at the MWUN Secretariat on Wednesday, President General of the union, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju condemned the attack and mayhem allegedly unleashed on truckers at the Tin Can ports by LASTCOC members who according to him, also doubles as NAMTOP members.
Adeyanju lamented that as at the time of signing the Memorandum of Understanding with NAMTOP, they failed to reveal their identity and membership of LASTOC, a development which according to him is threatening the peace at the port.
He said “The maritime workers union believe in the rule of law, we have an existing collaboration with NARTO, AMATO and NAMTOP which is a breakaway of COMTUA. They were here on Monday and I advise them to meet with the port stakeholders before commencing operations.
“The LASTCOC is an offshoot of the Lagos State Parks and Garages, they are the ones that are now NAMTOP and they are also part of our collaboration. However they did not tell us before, they were hiding their membership of LASTCOC, it was when they came here on Tuesday that I realised they were being cunning and deceitful.
“The port is a regulated area, if you want to collect any revenue, you must pass through due process. On this issue, we have won a case against RTEAN, NURTW, the only organ that can unionise or collect anything is the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria.
“The LASTCOC failed to inform members of the committee, they went to recruit external forces including boys from Mushin, Idi Oro and Ajegunle to come and cause mayhem at the port. These attacks have been a recurring decimal at the Tin Can Port.
“The port is big enough for anyone to transact their businesses, but it must be done legitimately with the rule of law. If you are doing a legitimate business, why are you coming with external forces and thugs to Tin Can Port? Why is this not happening at Apapa and Ijora?
“MWUN and NARTO are taken aback with what they have done, this is the third time they are doing this, they have always been apologising.
But I can assure you that this would never happen again” he said
Subsequently, the Union has issued a press statement condemning in strong words, the act of barbarism meted on Truckers at TCIT, Tincan Island Port on 6th of February, 2024 by hoodlums allegedly hired by LASTCOC.
The statement signed by the MWUN media officer, Comrade Kennedy Ikemefuna said “The crisis which lasted for hours on the day had many of the Maritime Truckers attacked with machetes and other dangerous weapons, leaving them (Truckers) with various degrees of injuries.
“The Thugs in their large numbers wielding all kinds of dangerous weapons came into the Tincan Port to impose illegal sales of ticket at the gate beginning from the Tincan Port. It was the ensued heated argument between the hoodlums and the Truck drivers that gave rise to the ugly crisis.
“It took the efforts of the security agencies at the port to douse the tension after serious exchange of gunshots by the hoodlums and the security agencies.
“We as a Union frowns at this incessant criminality that’s always giving room to person’s and group of people or associations, who have no business at the port and within the axis, coming to breach the peace of doing legitimate businesses at the maritime sector.
“It would be recalled that several attacks from same faceless associations also rocked the Tincan Port claiming lives and destroying vehicles at the port.
“The Maritime Workers Union is appealing to all the security agencies at the ports to please be vigilant and be more proactive in the security of persons, Truckers and property in and around the ports, as no good business thrives in the face of hostilities and crisis as we have experienced in recent times”