The chairman of AMATO, Chief Remi Ogungbemile.
Story by Dili Utomi.
The Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO) has lauded the action of the Lagos state government in placing an indefinite suspension on the activities of the Lagos State Task Force on the Removal of Abandoned Vehicles. The commendation came in an exclusive interview with the chairman of the association, Chief Remi Ogungbemile in his Creek road, Apapa office.
Chief Ogungbemile stated that the association deeply appreciates the action of the government and will work tirelessly to make sure that the gesture is not abused as in his words “This is a very good gesture by the government and as this is a privilege, the members of the association will not want a situation whereby this privilege of the suspension of the task force is now again withdrawn”.
He said that this is going to be done by instituting a monitoring team that will monitor all activities of all containerised trucks to ensure that any truck carrying a container out of the Ports has the container properly secured with twist locks or container hooks. He also said that the monitoring team will monitor all activities of the trucks drivers with their trucks at the container holding bays to ensure safe parking and that the trucks do not present themselves as encumbrances to other road users. He added that they are putting mechanisms in place to work with the national towing vehicle operators to make sure that any broken down vehicle is towed away by members in conjunction with the towing vehicle operators, the project is aptly named ‘ambulance for trucks’ according to the chairman.
The AMATO chairman attributes the suspension of the irksome task team popularly referred to as ‘abandoned’ to the numerous actions of his association and others in engaging the government through the writing of letters, meetings and other forms of engagements, he further expressed their appreciation of the gesture by the government. He said that the task team had gone beyond its mandate of clearing the streets of all abandoned vehicles by engaging in unlawful activities such as impounding the trucks of members while on queue at the roads and driving these same vehicles away while claiming to have towed them to the Alausa or some other government dump sites. He said that the owners of these trucks are made to part with heavy amounts of money that do no get receipted and all manners of extortions have been committed by the members of this task force.
We asked the chairman if the suspension which will apparently lead to lower cost in operation will mean a lower charge to the customer, he said that truckers had really not been making profits, but that he hopes that the cost of fuel and other factors driving costs up would be checked so that everyone will be able to afford charges and the cost of goods.
In his advice, he asked the people in government to stop seeing trucks and trucks owners as ATMs, but charged them to follow the precepts of all laid down legal principles in honestly dealing with members, he also advised the truck owners themselves to always make sure that their vehicles are in good condition, that they are well behaved on the roads, pay the legitimate fees and be generally law abiding at all times.
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