Adeyinka Aroyewun, COMTUA NOS.
Story by Dili Utomi.
The Council Of Maritime Transport Unions and Associations (COMTUA) has cried out loud over the seemingly suffocating business environment that has been occasioned by the various factors that have made the business of trucking a more difficult and less profitable venture over the past few years. The President of the Association Otunba Olaleye Thompson and his executive team have authorized a press release and interview.
In a press release on behalf of the Association by the National Organising Secretary, Comrade Adeyinka Aroyewun who spoke further on the matter, a litany of issues that demand immediate and swift response were raised and these are followed up with a slew of demands which the Association feels justified to make in order that the damage done to their business may have a level of amelioration.
The Association mulled the apparent lack of transparency in the operation of the ETO inspired call up system by the NPA saying that the management of funds deposited in the wallet of the system puts truckers at the mercy of the officials managing the system and that apparently the cost has risen from #10,000.00 to #30,000.00 without any service rendered. They complained that members with genuine documents are deliberately delayed and trucks of powerful people on the priority list are given the easy passage to and from the Ports. Furthermore, the Association frowns at the active connivance of officials in granting priority attention to some truckers at the detriment of those with genuine documents and getting their trucks to move in and out of the Ports at night with little consideration for laid down procedures. The NOS of the Association further mentioned the name of the Senior Special Adviser on CBD to the Governor of Lagos State, as the one who passes the priority trucks for between One Hundred Thousand to One Hundred and Eighty Thousand Naira per truck. He noted that a petition has been filed to the Governor against the SSA.
COMTUA also speaks out against the incidents of extortion rings along the Ports corridors coupled with all the illegal checkpoints/toll gates mounted at various points to milk truckers of cash. The action of demanding for as much as Two Hundred Thousand Naira (#200,000.00) from truckers before empty containers are deposited at holding bays is one that has also drawn the ire of the Association, just as the cases of hoodlums constituting themselves into traffic managers for example the ECOMOG boys around the mile 2 area who are forcefully selling a Lagos state bus ticket to truckers at Two Thousand Naira per truck at about five different locations and other avenues of extortion of money from members are also deplored.
The transport body has also condemned the action of the Lagos State Transport Management Agency (LASTMA) for harassing truck drivers and the towing of trucks of members even at the entry points of holding bays.
COMTUA advises that the government redoubles it efforts towards infrastructural development to aid easy movement of vehicles and other road users as it tasks the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) to jettison the imposition of the safety sticker through the ETO software as it only serves a financial interest and addresses no real safety concerns; again the action of issuing safety stickers is sub judice as NPA will be acting in contempt of court while issuing this sticker.
The Association noted that in the two weeks that the ETO application shot down that the Thirty Thousand Naira (#30,000.00) members paid amounted to a loss of an estimated Two Hundred and Twenty Five million Naira (#225,000,000.00) over the period, and again the arbitrary increase either formally or informally of the payable fee from Ten Thousand Naira to Thirty Thousand Naira and all the ETO induced demurrage over the seven weeks of operation amounted to members loosing an estimated Five Billion Naira in monetary value.
The Association in the final analyses made a fourteen point demand to the government, some of which are: That NPA/ETO should pay a compensation to the tune of Ten Billion Naira to the Association for the losses incurred by members, suspension of enforcement on members trucks that were impounded along the Ports corridors, suspension of the safety/administrative stickers, reduction of the cost of application through ETO to a maximum of Two Thousand Naira only and the cancellation of the ETO demurrage or at most charge a renewal fee of Five Hundred Naira per truck for delay in the usage of issued ticket, the immediate dismantling of all road blocks and the urgent prosecution of all erring persons adding uncertainty and chaos within the system are among other demands made for the promotion of ease of doing business as is expounded by the present administration.
It is also worth while to note that COMTUA had in a letter written to the NPA on the 20th of April gave a 21 day ultimatum for the Authority to address all the issues raised or they will be forced to take one or both of the options of withdrawing their services and legal action at the courts.
The www.greatalternativenetwork.com.ng sought answers through the general manager, corporate communications of the NPA and the the interaction is published verbatim.
Question 1. Has NPA increased the fee charged on the Eto application
from 10k to 30k?
Answers. No. The Authority has not increased the charges. Even as we speak, the standard fee to access ETO is 10k but there are situations when truck
operators need to use the pre-gates before accessing the ports, but rather than just approaching straight from the truck parks. In these instances, they will have to pay at the truck park and still pay at the pre-gate. These are the occasions that people may pay more than 10k.
Question 2. Did NPA refund monies paid through the Eto application
software when it broke down for two weeks, if not why?
Answer. The first point to make here is that Eto has never broken down. There were times we have had to disable the app just as a measure of control for the flow of traffic into the Apapa logistics Zone and we try to let
stakeholders know whenever this happens, so the app hasn’t broken
down. On the issue of charges, we do not charge for using Eto in the
strict sense of the word. If you have money in your wallet, it would always be there for you.
Question 3. There are allegations of extortion rings that seem to finger all government officials engaged in the movement of cargoes
in and around the Ports corridors, what’s your take on this?
Answer. Extortion is one of the challenges that Eto is meant to solve and solve permanently. So, we consider the current challenges as part of the teething problems which is being perpetrated by those who want the old way of doing things to remain, but they will fail. We are doing everything to deal with this situation and a few examples will be made in no distant time. However, we must appeal to transporters to be patient and not patronise these illegal opportunities. Eto will resolve these problems if we all work together. We also appeal to anyone with evidence of malpractices that could help us to come forward with information. We need everyone’s support.
Question 4. There is a press release from the COMTUA making various demands from the NPA including a damage claim of #10b,
what is your reaction to this sir?
There has been no request for N10b or any sums in our communications
with COMTUA. They have written to us on some issues of concern, and we will be engaging them on all these fronts. We believe they are all issues that we can resolve amicably but no monetary damage has been mentioned.