Unions Move To Sanitise Maritime Sector

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Truck owners, drivers and other stakeholders in the maritime sector have formed a new union, Council of Maritime Transport Unions and Associations, (COMTUA) aimed at sanitising the sector and getting them required recognition from the government.
COMTUA is a coalition of six existing unions in the maritime sector, namely Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, Amalgamation of Container Truck Owners Association, and Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners.
Others are Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria, National Union of Road Transport Workers (Heavy duty section) and Association of Maritime Truck Owners.
Shortly before embarking on a sensitisation rally to the ports in Apapa and Tin Can and its environs, the General Coordinator of COMTUA, Mr Stephen Okafor, told our correspondent that all the unions and associations that formed the new association were critical stakeholders in the maritime sector.
He noted that they came together in order to forge a common front towards solving the challenges confronting them while carrying out their business.
Okafor said there were challenges of the stakeholders contending with gridlock, bad roads, endless queues to discharge empty containers to shipping companies and alleged extortion of truck drivers at the precincts of ports at Apapa and Tin Can.
He added that the government would take the unions more seriously as they all had representatives in COMTUA.
He said: “All the unions and associations that formed the Council of Maritime Transport Unions and Associations are stakeholders in the maritime sector. We have the truck owners, workers, drivers or other stakeholders in that sector.
“The government has been desirous of us coming together in order to be able to present a common front whenever we require anything from the government, in terms of creating enabling environment for our business to thrive.
“There are challenges of bad roads and gridlock around the Apapa ports. Trucks queue endlessly at the Apapa axis for weeks in a bid to drop empty containers to the shipping companies. Some of the shipping companies don’t have holding bays. Our members pay demurrage for this delay. We have come together to address the challenges facing us at the ports, terminals and on the roads.”
The Deputy Head of Operations, COMTUA, Mr Omotayo Stephens, said due to the delay at the ports, the unions lost no fewer than 35 truck drivers in 2018. He explained that sometimes it took some drivers three weeks to drop empty containers at the holding bays of the shipping companies. He said, “Some of the drivers died on the wheel due to stress, no fewer than 35 of them died last year. “