Story by Dili Utomi.
There is palpable tension among the ranks of the different transport Unions and Associations as one of the transport associations in the maritime sector is presently at daggers drawn over the recent recognition of an umbrella body of truckers.
The Association of Maritime Transport Owners (AMATO) is an association of truck operators as the name suggests and it has been in existence for over seventeen years and counting. AMATO was never a member of the Committee of Maritime Transport Unions and Associations (COMTUA) which is an umbrella body for all transport bodies in the country. Over the past two years, the COMTUA has been having issues with some of the Associations under it and this has culminated in such Associations as the National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) and Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) withdrawing their membership of COMTUA.
The recent action of the Lagos State Government in recognising COMTUA has drawn a swift reaction from AMATO and the Association has sent a strong worded letter to the State Government.
The letter which was made available to us reads in part “We write to express our disagreement and total rejection of the non-transparent and questionable circumstance that led to the emergence and recognition of COMTUA as an umbrella body of trucking associations in the maritime haulage industry due to the following reasons”.
The reasons for the rejection of the recognition of COMTUA includes that at the meeting scheduled by the State government to have an agreeable umbrella name for all truckers which held on the 5th of October this year that COMTUA members worked out after sensing that the name COMTUA was not going to be adopted for the purpose.
That at another meeting held by all transport stakeholders at the Standford hotel in Ajegunle, it was unanimously agreed that “Amalgamation” would be used as the appendage for all transport bodies and a letter having the signatures of all interest groups in the transport sector was signed and sent to the office of the Lagos State Government through the special adviser on transport, Sola Giwa.
That a “Sham” election was organised at the office of the SA to the Governor on the 22nd of November where the same COMTUA that worked out on a precious meeting was then recognised as the name to be adopted as the umbrella transport association.
That the COMTUA is presently in disarray and therefore, AMATO calls the government to de-recognise COMTUA and stated that the election that triggered the recognition was not democratic and never inclusive.
That the antecedents of the COMTUA shows that it is an entity embroiled in the act of extortion and illegalities coupled with its antagonistic towards the electronic traffic control system commonly known as ‘eto’.
That COMTUA was in a meeting where it was generally agreed that the name ‘Amalgamated’ was agreed to be adopted and that a letter had hitherto been sent to the State government, the Nigerian Ports Authority, the Nigerian Shippers’Council, the Ports Standing Task Team and other relevant agencies of government.
The AMATO says that they write this letter to the state government in other to promote a peaceful atmosphere and engender better cooperation among transport operators as well as the general public and the letter was signed by its national president, Chief Remi Ogungbemile.
On his part, the president of COMTUA, Adeyinka Aroyewun, said that the recognition of COMTUA came about after a democratic election which took place at Alausa, Ikeja where 13 members of the trucking community voted in favour of the name and 3 voted against it. He described the action of AMATO as being that of the interest of one man who has been the president of the association since inception 17 years ago. Mr. Aroyewun enjoined all who are interested in promoting the ideals on which the Union was founded to rally round it for their greater good all.
A call to the SA on Transportation to the Lagos State governor, Sola Giwa was not picked as at press time and it remains to be seen if the government will heed the advice of AMATO to reverse the recognition.
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