NPA Advocates Soft Loans for Maritime Truck Owners, Partners AMATO to Sensitize Drivers

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Group photograph of stakeholders at the sensitization programme organised by NPA in partnership with AMATO in Apapa Lagos on Tuesday.

By DAPO OLAWUNI

The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) in collaboration with the Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO) has embarked on rigorous sensitization of maritime truck drivers in order to reduce carnage as a result of truck accidents.

Representative of FRSC, Mr Folorunsho IT, Mr Anda Emmanuel representing the Port Manager LPC, Mr Sunday Patrick Chief Port Safety officer of Tin Can Port, and his counterpart, Mr Francis Ezego from Apapa port during the sensitization of Truckers at AMATO Secretariat on Tuesday

This is even as the NPA has advocated for a specialised subvention and soft loans for truck owners in order to purchase modern trucks and phase out rickety trucks from the port system.

Speaking at the sensitization programme held at the AMATO Secretariat in Apapa on Tuesday, the Port Manager, Apapa Port Complex, Mr Charles Bamidele Okaga noted that the Federal Government has provided financial interventions for various sectors of the economy to ensure smooth operations, adding that the NPA, as well as the Nigeria Shippers Council are currently working on providing same for Truck business at the port.

Okaga who was represented by the Traffic Manager, Apapa Port, Mr Anda Emmanuel, also charged AMATO to work on collaborating with relevant agencies to actualize soft loans and subsidies for purchasing modern trucks for their businesses.

Speaking, he said “The issue of transportation and our trucking system has become very loud, there has been so many issues on the side of the truckers, on the side of NPA, and on the side of the law enforcement agencies.

“What we want to achieve is an equilibrium between all the contending forces, we want a transportation that is safe, efficient and that will complement the maritime sector. We believe that you truckers can deliver what our port is asking for. Safety with regards to transportation is very paramount.

“The truth of the matter is that today, some of the vehicles you see breaking down on the road and causing accidents, these are accidents that can be avoided if we cooperate with one another.

“The port itself is looking for a situation where the Federal Government will intervene and provide subvention and Subsidy for Truck Owners, there are so many other sectors that the government has provided soft loans and supports.

“We believe that transportation, especially as it has to do with port business is one of such that we can get government to intervene and provide soft loans and subsidy, so that we can take advantage of it and bring in new trucks.

“The Federal Government is already thinking towards that direction, NPA, Shippers Council are thinking towards that direction, I believe that the truck association should also be thinking towards that direction, and it a couple of years, maybe between now and five years, we can change this industry and make it efficient”

Also speaking, NPA Assistant General Manager in charge of Safety, represented by one Eng Garuba, said that the NPA considers safety as cardinal to cargo delivery at the ports.

According to him, trucking is a critical part of port operations that can not be ignored, while the drivers are a critical partner in ensuring that cargoes are taken to the required destination.

“NPA is equally committed to the safety of lives and properties, that is why the management is unwavering, we solicit your support in ensuring that we have safety on our roads, so that the carnage we are experiencing is reduced to the barest minimum.

“Truck drivers are critical because 75 percent of road accidents are caused by human errors, and these errors are attributed to so many factors” the NPA top gun stated

Cross section of participants at the event

He enjoined truckers to always adhere to the rules and regulations so that cargoes can get to their destinations, and the rate of accidents will drop drastically.
He assured that the result of the sensitization would reflect greatly on the trucking business at the port.

Inna paper presentation titled “Driving Standard and Conduct” The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) represented at the exercise by Mr Folorunsho IT, warned truck owners against roadside recruitment of drivers, urging them to ensure that drivers have class G license.

He urged truck owners to always carryout research on drivers and their history, and to also observe drivers attitudes, carryout on-the-road assessments to ascertain their knowledge of the high way codes.

” Before ebsuring drivers to hndle your trucks, ensure the applicants physical fitness, carryout proper profile of the driver with Lagos State Government.

“Check-out for deceases such as heart, epileptic, vision issues, sugar level etc . It is worrisome that you still see old men of over 70 driving trucks, when they are not to be allowed to handle vehicles.

“Management of Truck companies should organise annual training and sensitization for their drivers, they should ensure provision of suitable vehicles for driving, today, what we have prevalent is poor maintenance of vehicle, there should be file or record of servicing of vehicles.

Folorunsho stressed the need for drivers taking proper rests before embarking on journeys.

On his part, the Chairman of AMATO, Chief Remi Ogungbemi lamented that the environment under which truck drivers are operating is too hostile and needs to be changed.
He said AMATO is partnering relevant agencies to ensure that any truck that does not have a functional twistlocks should not be allowed into the port.

“As far as this industry is concerned, this is my 5th decade, and I stated the business from the scratch after the education that my parents can afford me, I started as a motor boy, I was following trucks to nooks and crannies of Nigeria, gradually I became a driver before I started buying trucks.

“I am saying this because it is the person that wears the shoes that knows where and how it works. I want you to know that our environment is too hostile, we are challenged from different angles, either from state actors or non state actors.

“We know that some accidents are avoidable and that is why we are here, we want to partner with the safety department of NPA so that this sensitization would be a constant exercise, we don’t want it to end here.

“In AMATO, we have already prioritized safety, and I want you to know that as far as this association is concerned, safety is our watchword.
We need to see how we can work more on the hostilities of the environment, imagine the drivers working under the scorching sun, and they are being extorted by street urchins, they are terrible people, and most accidents are being caused by them.
In most cases they struggle the steering wheel with drivers, sometimes, they even break the ropes used to tie the containers, they have knives they use so that the drivers can have am accident.
What is the authority doing about all these?

“However, we have resolved henceforth that with the support of the safety department of NPA and support of Federal Road Safety Corp, VIO, and LASEMA, we want to ensure that any truck that doesn’t have a functional twistlocks should not be allowed into the port because Nigerians are calling us names that we don’t like.
Some call us higher killers, we want to change the narratives, enough is enough, we want to start practicalitising what we are saying” Ogungbemi states

The truck drivers in attendance also tool turns intimate the NPA and other agencies on the challenges bedevilling their operations.

One of them, Mr Balogun, said the major challenge of trucking business in Nigeria is insecurity.

“When you are driving with trepidation of area boys, law enforcement, the driver is panicking, many of them cannot drive by day until law enforcement is gone. 

“When a truck develops fault on the road, there is no one to help you, they all want to take from you, especially area boys” he said

Another driver, Habib Wahab said truck drivers are now evolving and that there is self regulation among truck drivers.

“We drivers have changed totally because we have realised the bad names people call us in the society. We have a group where we sensitize ourselves every month in Apapa” he assured

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