Truck drivers welcome minimum standard enforcement, kick against N10,000 administrative levy

The Association of Maritime Truck Owners(AMATO) has said that it welcomed the enforcement of the minimum standards for trucks operating in the ports, in order to rid the operations of rickety trucks compromising safety.

Chairman of the association, Chief Remi Ogungbemi in an interview lauded the initiative to begin the enforcement of the minimum standard required for trucks operating  in the port.

He said that the Nigerian Ports Authority(NPA) had in the last three years established the intention to begin the process over a period of time, in order to give the operators time to take necessary actions.

 He, however, said that the N10,000 administrative fee proposed by the NPA was not favoured by members of the association, who even accused him of accepting the proposed fee for his personal interest.

“For your information, text messages have been going around within the truck owners associations that I had aligned with the NPA Authority to start exploiting truck owners and agreed with them on this so that I can be given commission.
“But in the actual fact, the NPA management is saying ‘enough is enough’ of all these accidents, carnage happening on our roads, especially where it involves trucks carrying containers.

“They then said that rather than wait for such incidences to happen, they want to start implementing the minimum standard to ensure that trucks that are coming in to the ports meet up with certain standard before such trucks are allowed into the port for business purposes.

“I believe that no journey or money is too much to spend to ensure safety of life and property. I support any measure that can reduce carnage on our road,” he said.
According to Ogungbemi, the NPA said each certified truck would be given a sticker to enable it entry into the port.

He said although the NPA had promised to ensure truck drivers did not suffer extortions by various groups in Apapa again after the payment of the administrative fees, the association thought N5,000 or less could have been preferred.

Responding, the General Manager, Western Ports, Chief Michael Ajayi, said the administrative fee for the truck certification process stands, stressing that only certified trucks would be allowed into the port for business.

He argued that the amount being charged had nothing to do with claims that the truck owners were made to pay for road maintenance as their trucks allegedly were damaging the roads within the port corridors.

“The certification is important and strategic to the business the truck owners do. The certification is free, but the administrative cost is what we are saying they should pay N10,000 per annual for; an average of N800 monthly.

“Certification is a continuous exercise because a truck that is good today may not be the same tomorrow.

“We have been repairing the port roads, like when we repaired the Liverpool road we did not collect money from them, so it is not because we need money for road repairs around the ports,” Chief Ajayi said.

Ogungbemi  appeal to the NPA management to consider a downward review of the fee, suggesting that it could rather turn to its initial system where trucks paid a certain ‘packing fee’ each day they went to the port.

The NPA had stated that the minimum standard being checked would include among other things, valid documents including driver’s license, functional lights,  twist-lock, container-hook, good tyres, strong truck bed.