NPA, AMATO for stakeholders’ parley to address contentious issues

The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO) on Monday said they would hold talks by Sept. 29, to resolve issues that led to truck drivers’ protest.

It could be recalled that some truck drivers protested over a misunderstanding with security operatives outside the port gate in Apapa, Lagos last week Thursday.

Both parties identified the absence of a call-up system as a major challenge which made some drivers induce security operatives to collect money to allow them into the port.

In an interview, the Apapa Port Manager, Mr Anas Nasir, said that the truck drivers did complain of extortion by security operatives outside the port, as well as delays inside the terminals.

He said bearing all the complaints, it was certain that a call-up system would serve an urgent measure to checking the problem and get things done more efficiently.

In his words: “The drivers mentioned the issue of extortion by security agents operating outside the port, and claimed they faced delays trying to off-load or load their boxes in the terminal.

Nasir, however, said that the terminal operators refuted the allegation of delays by the truck drivers.

 “We are working to introduce measures to ensure that the terminals do the proper thing, and as a way of solving this issue, we’ll establish a call-up system that must be implemented.”

He appealed to the truckers to be law-abiding and not take to shunting, which he said could lead to some of these challenges.

“Some people will want to go out of their own to induce officials to allow them go in before others. If that attitude can be checked, it will go a long way to solving the challenges.”

Nasir, however, assured that the NPA would ensure improvement in the working environment as it planned to convene a meeting with the leadership of all the security operatives.

Also speaking on the issue, Chief Remi Ogungbemi, Chairman of the Association of Maritime Truck Owners ( AMATO)  blamed  the situation whereby  several trucks mill around the port environment when not requested for.

He said it encouraged some drivers to offer money to traffic officials, in order to be allowed into the port, just as some officials may want to take advantage of the situation too.

“In a situation where you see thousands of trucks wanting to enter, the tendencies are that some of them will want to give money to security operatives to enable them go on time.

“And the traffic regulator and security men too, will now capitalise on the situation to start giving them conditions to pass through.”

Ogungbemi said that though the protest may have been caused by the harsh work environment the drivers faced, he commended NPA’s efforts to ensure a workable system to overcome the present challenges.

“It is the hostile environment that is breeding the extortions and all other things. But, the NPA is working to control and manage the rate at which trucks will come into the port.

“They have started discussions with a firm that is coming to work on a ‘call-up’ system.

“This will ensure that only booked trucks will be required to come into the port environment.

“So, if trucks are not booked by any of the terminals, such trucks will not just come into Apapa,” Ogungbemi said.