Otunba Olaleye Thompson, President, COMTUA.
Story by Dili Utomi.
The unresolved matters as regards the freedom of movement, what fees to pay and at what point within and around the Lagos Ports and their environs with a view to also completely providing the desired smooth movement in and out of the Ports areas seem rather intractable as the unifying body of truckers kicks against certain perceived abnormalities. A slew of letters and petitions have been flying around in bids to have a smooth operating environment that is free of encumbrances, extortion and all manners of illegalities.
Now the truckers are wishing to educate the perceived unseen hands bent on frustrating their efforts on the rationale behind their coming to the road as an association to organise their members. In a letter meant to draw the attentions of the ministerial committee on transport, the Nigerian Ports Authority and the Lagos state Agency for the removal of abandoned/disused vehicles, the Committee on Maritime Transport Unions and Associations is reiterating its stand to abide by the law of the land which is clear about association and which is without ambiguity. The letter says that according to the law, the term “FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION” to this extent, does not require any approval for them to organise members on the road. The road in this context they say is their workshop. They allege that members holding genuine call up documents are not able to access the road, thereby giving credence to the notion that the time to open the road to what vehicles rests squarely on an individual or a group of people. The referenced letter says that “They do not want to refer to this as anybody’s failure, but the inefficiency of a system can not be allowed to paralyse their business”.
Toyin Fayinka SA to the Lagos State governor on transportation.
The association wonders how many of the approved garages in Lagos meet the prerequisite conditions for approval. They decry the fact that many of their members have to move to garages with lower standards because those were the approved ones by the NPA. A situation where members line their vehicles on the road and be denied access, only to find other vehicles without the requisite documents gaining access while the ones with genuine documents remain on the road for days is lamented.
The incessant harassment of members by officials of the Lagos State Transport Management Agency (LASTMA) and that of the abandoned/disused vehicle agency enforcement team they say are totally frustrating. They wonder why the Enforcement team’s sole responsibility is the arrest of violators and offenders and how the officials determine what vehicles move and that when they move is shrouded in ambiguity.
Adeyinka Aroyewun, COMTUA National Organising Secretary.
COMTUA has therefore taken the bull by the horn by taking to monitoring the compliance of their members and to ensure that no one uses the apparatus of state to circumvent the process and favour some people.
They stated that in the two days of monitoring of members, that they have observed that the roads are what they are because the enforcement team have chosen to abandon regulations.
The association asserts its belief that everyone is equal before the law as they say that some LASTMA officials on ground claim to have received instructions to pass certain trucks from the Senior Assistant to the Lagos State governor on transportation Mr. Toyin Fayinka while other trucks are denied access. They claim that they have seen the Police on ground passing trucks without due compliance to the regulations.
The letter says that these acts and many more shall be resisted. The Lagos state traffic enforcement team is mainly supposed to enforce the traffic laws and ensure no breach, and its duty does not include giving priority to anybody or groups.
Therefore, the Association notes that they are not government officials and are not or do not intend on controlling the process. They say that they are out to protect the interest of members and shall not fold their hands when others breache the law.
It is also noteworthy that we got hold of copies of letters written to the Nigerian Ports Authority by COMTUA on the 12th, 17th, 21st and 22nd of September 2021 on different issues that all have to do with either perceived or recorded cases of infractions on the part of government officials. The letter of the 12th of September dealt with the issue of setting up of a committee to see to the monitoring of traffic around the Sunrise bus stop area with a view to opening up the closed portion of the road.
The letter of the 17th dealt with the matter of terminal operators rejecting empty containers on the ground that there are no spaces, the letter asked the NPA to enforce the receipt of these empty containers as this is one of the causes of traffic gridlock and that the truckers can no longer continue to use their trucks as holding bays with the attendant economic losses.
The letter of the 21st focused on the use of the Port Express area around Berger yard as a pre-gate point which has caused the flooding of the area with trucks, the situation according to the association is against laid down procedures.
The last letter of the 22nd of September petitions the NPA to stop the act of divide and rule tactics as they only deal with some people who are not members of the COMTUA executive in deliberations and negotiations.
The association is thus asking for fairness, justice and the observance of laid down procedures.
This news medium sought to balance the story by calling the special assistant to the Lagos State governor on transportation, Mr. Toyin Fayinka to ask him about the allegation that he is always personally seeking to influence the happenings within the transport sector for personal and group reasons. Mr. Fayinka debunked the allegation and called all accusations as baseless and the antics of some jobless persons who only seek cheap and personal popularity. He noted that he only picked our calls because his upbringing and job demand that he answers all calls as he is ready to answer to any petition written against him in any court of competent jurisdiction. He totally denies any personal interest as he said that he is only motivated to serve the interest of the general public as enunciated by the Lagos State government under the current occupier of the State’s government house.
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