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Truck Drivers Suspend Strike



… As NPA blames collapse of call up system on operators

Truck drivers who embarked on strike since last Saturday over failure of the truck call-up system introduced to ease traffic congestion at the Lagos seaports – Tin Can and Apapa have called off their strike. It was gathered that the shipping companies have been unable to give clearing agents rotation number because of the congestion at the seaside which would also increase cargo dwell time at the ports.
However, the strike was called off after the Nigerian Shippers Council brokered peace between the truck drivers, Nigerian Navy and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA). In a meeting held at the boardroom of the council yesterday, the executive secretary of the council urged the truck drivers to return to the port.
He said, “We have persuaded the truckers to go back to work. We just came out of a meeting between the truck drivers, NPA and the Nigerian Navy. The truckers’ complaint has been on holding bay and it is something we need to sit-down and discuss. Bello also disclosed that shipping companies want to charge for containers going to holding bay but they have stopped it.”
Confirming the call off, the chairman, Dry Cargo, Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), Abdullahi Inuwa, said the strike has been suspended.
He said: “The strike has been suspended, and our members have returned to the port to lift cargoes.”
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) has put the blame of the collapse of the call up system on terminal operators and shipping companies operating at the Tin-Can and Apapa ports.
The Authority in a press statement made available to LEADERSHIP by the assistant general manager, Strategic and Corporate Communication, Isah Suwaid, said it consulted with the operators before embarking on the call up system.
The statement read, “In response to the protests by trucks drivers around the Lagos Port Complex and the Tin Can Island Ports, the management of the Nigerian Ports Authority has held several meetings with unions between Thursday, July 5, 2018 and Wednesday, July 11, 2018.
“Some of the issues raised by the protesting drivers include the, operation of the call-up system introduced by the Authority as part of our traffic management strategy; alleged extortion by security agencies and the utilisation of holding bays by shipping companies and terminal operators as defined in an agreement in November, 2017.
“The Authority recalls that it consulted widely with all stakeholders including shipping lines and terminal operators before the introduction of the call-up system, which has proved to be the most effective way of managing traffic in the Apapa axis till date.
“The current situation results from the reported failure of some of the shipping companies and terminal operators to comply with the agreement on the usage of holding bays reached in November, 2017.”

Suwaid also disclosed that it has begun investigation into allegation of bribery and compliance and non-compliance level of terminal operators and shipping companies.
“We have consequently launched an investigation into the level of compliance or non-compliance to agreements reached between the Authority, shipping companies and terminal operators on the immediate use of holding bays for trucks and containers until such trucks were called into the ports through the call- up system adopted in November 2017. Any company found to have contravened this agreement will be sanctioned.
“As the Authority also investigates allegations of extortion by officials of the Nigerian Navy, The Nigeria Police Force and NPA security personnel by the truck drivers with assurances that culprits will be made to face the laws of the country, we appeal to stakeholders to give chance for a peaceful resolution of the issues at stake,” he said.