Automotive Policy: Stakeholders in haulage and logistics want their interests considered



L-R; Mr Chike Nwokolo, Asst Dir. NAC; Mr Frank Nneji MD/CEO ABC Transport; Mr Emmanuel Usiakpor, MD/CEO JOZA Global; Mr Alfred Okugbeni, Publisher Haulage and Logistics Magazine; Mrs Okugbeni; Mr Ifeanyi Ogbor, Head, VAF Stanbic IBTC Bank, and Mr Mamudu Luqman, Director,NAC



Stakeholders in the haulage and logistics sub-sector has called on the Federal Government to factor in their operational interest as activities of automotive policy take shape.

They made their views known at the Fifth Anniversary Conference of the Haulage and Logistics Magazine in Lagos.
Mr Emmanuel Usiakpor, the Managing Director, Joza Global Logistics, said a review of some challenges faced by the operators was necessary as a way forward.

The theme of the conference was ``The New Automotive Policy: Opportunities and Challenges for the haulage and logistics industry in Nigeria’’.
L-R; Mr Emmanuel Usiakpor, MD/CEO JOZA Global; Mr Morten Foght, MD Bukkehave; Mr Cyril Ogude, MD CY Incorporated; Mr Frank Nneji MD/CEO ABC transport, and Mr Alfred Okugbeni, Publisher, Haulage and Logistics Magazine

Usiakpor said it was necessary that the provisions of the new policy should address the need for truck drivers’ training institute among other issues, to ensure complete success of the policy.

``There should be a drivers’ training institute for adequate training of drivers because most of them graduated from being just motor-boys.

``With improved technology in the new trucks being built for today, there is need for a training provision considering the level of our drivers,” he said.

Usiakpor said that part of the operational challenges bordered on the lack of ‘after-sales’ service for  technical maintenance of trucks, which had resulted in additional cost through overseas training.

``It is sad that no one is monitoring a safety policy, which should be government-driven, considering that policemen check what the vehicle inspection officers are supposed to check,’’ he said.

Usiakpor noted that the Federal Road Safety Corps’ personnel arrest some motorists for not using seat belts and ignored vehicles which were not road-worthy.

Also speaking, Mr Frank Nneji, the Managing Director of ABC Transport, said the challenges facing the haulage and logistics sector were from the external environment, which demanded government’s attention.

``The major issues are especially those that demand government’s attention, talking about the conditions of the roads, security, regulation and multiple taxes.

``These have been very difficult to put a handle on.

``Those within the environment are within the control of the operators. They are things you could do, like carry out maintenance of your vehicles, manage your drivers and the rest,” he said.

Nneji, however, noted that the concern of the sub-sector in the automotive policy would be the affordability, quality and standard of the vehicles.

The stakeholders also raised concerns about how the vehicle finance scheme would benefit operators who want to patronise the made-in-Nigeria vehicles.

They expressed reservations about obtaining loans from local banks because, according to them, the local banks have not shown confidence in the locally-manufactured vehicles.

The stakeholders also wanted consideration to include assembly plants that would stand the test of time and still remain active in business to service the industry needs.

Earlier, in his keynote address, Mr Aminu Jalal, the Director-General of the National Automotive Council (NAC), assured stakeholders that the policy was value-driven for the improvement of the sector.

``I want to assure you that the new automotive plan will give a new lease of life to this important industry, because the industry drives the development of so many industries, including haulage and logistics,” he said.

Jalal said that the automotive industrial development plan was developed after extensive consultations with existing local automobile manufacturers and international equipment manufacturers to ensure the best results for the industry.

He said that within the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan, the automobile sector has been identified as an industry group for its large market, labour-intensive characteristics.

According to him, since the announcement of the policy, the 14 existing assemblage plants which were at the verge of closure have received a new lease of life and obtained renewed partnership agreement.

 Mr Lukmon Mamudu, a director at the NAC, also assured that the made-in-Nigeria vehicles would be at the same rate and of standard quality as any imported vehicle.

``We have a process to ensure that the companies set up plants that will benefit businesses in Nigeria. We consider their plant location and ensure the registration is competitive.

``And to encourage them, those who register with the Federal Ministry of Finance as manufacturers can bring in their equipment easily.

``NAC is setting up three laboratories, to carry out scientific tests on the products from the factories. As components are brought in as CKD, you must have certification.

``On maintenance, we have signed agreement with Bosch to partner for training, maintenance and repairs,” Mamudu said.

He said that financing had been taken care of with the agreement signed with the West Bank of South Africa, which is renowned for vehicle financing.

Mr Alfred Okugbeni, the publisher of Haulage and Logistics magazine, and convener of the event,expressed optimism about the success of the automotive policy and its impact on haulage the sub-sector.

He said it was important to start small and grow, than to continue to depend on importation of vehicles.

``We cannot continue to depend on imported vehicles, we have to start somewhere, and be able to create employment.

``For every vehicle that is brought in, we are employing some people out there. So, it is a good initiative and I believe that it is very important to start somewhere.

``We may not start in the way the more developed countries started, but we can grow,” he said.