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. “
Customs Loses N2.3bn Daily To COVID-19
The Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) says the lockdown in Lagos State, arising from the Coronavirus pandemic has caused the service to lose its daily revenue of N2.3 billion in the state.
The lockdown was imposed by the Federal Government on Lagos State to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This was contained in a statement by NCS Public Relations Officer, Apapa Area Command, Nkiru Nwala.
Nwala disclosed that the Customs’ top three revenue generating commands namely the Apapa Area Command, Tin Can Island Port Area Command and PTML Area Command were collectively losing N2.3 billion daily to the lockdown.
She said the Apapa Area Command, which she described as the highest revenue collecting command of the NCS, recorded an average collection of N900 million daily as against its daily target of N1.8 billion.
Nwala noted that the effect of the lockdown would have been minimal on the command’s revenue generation if the banks had opened for operations.
“As you know, none of the activities in the port was stopped but the major issue here are the banks and there is little we can do without the banks. Duty payment is beyond online transaction, it has a whole lot of documentations that is required more than transfer.
“On Wednesday, we got N949million. If the banks were open, it would have been a bit different but I learnt the banks have been asked to open. Since the bank will be opened by weekend, I am sure the revenue will improve”, she said.
The Tin Can Island Port Command, which is the second highest Customs revenue collecting command, has also been recording a shortfall of N700million daily in its revenue collection since the lockdown, according to its spokesman, Uche Ejesieme.
“Before now, we are on the average of N1.5 billion to 1.7 billion daily but I don’t think we are making that much now. For now, we are between N800 and N900 million daily collections since the lockdown.
“We hope that by the time the bulk operators that pay in bulk come in, it is going to boost our revenue.
“The major problem is because the banks are not working despite the directive that they should work. The agents confirm that they can’t even do a single transaction in the banks. The jobs are interwoven; one agency cannot operate without the other. The situation expectedly has affected revenue generation.
“Beyond the fact that some of the agents cannot go to the banks to pay, some are actually doing e-payment but if you look at the percentage of e-payment and manual, the difference is huge. We are hoping that sooner than later, some of the challenges will be ameliorated.
Also speaking, spokesman, PTML, Area Command, Tin Island Port Complex Yakubu Muhammed, said the lockdown has negatively impacted the revenue generation of the command as most of the agents cannot come over to lodge their declarations.
He said the command’s revenue declined from a daily collection of N900million to N189 million while number of declarations also dropped from 1300 daily to 100.
“Our daily official revenue target is N1 billion but on the average, we collect between N600 million and N900 million. If you look at what we have from Tuesday (last week) when the lock down started, the rate has really dropped”, he said.
Lockdown: Sifax Condemns Detention Of Workers
The management of Sifax Group has raised alarm over detention of its personnel by security agencies despite proper identification and covering letter from the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA).
In a statement signed by the Group Managing Director of Sifax, Mr Adekunle Oyinloye, and made available to The Tide in Lagos, the company said that its operations at the terminal had been faced with daunting challenges since the lockdown.
Oyinloye disclosed this during a tour of all terminals in Lagos by the Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman to assess the impact of the lockdown on ports.
He said: “We have encountered a lot of challenges including the harassment and detention of our staff by security agencies despite presenting their ID cards and the cover letter from NPA and bank closure at the ports,among others.
“We will need your assistance to address these obstacles to our operations”, he pleaded with the NPA boss”.
Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos
COVID-19: NIWA Distributes Buses, Patrol Boats To States, Agencies
The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) says it had distributed water buses and patrol boats for use by relevant state and federal agencies in the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic.
This is as the agency has donated N10 million to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Lagos State Government in the fight against the deadly virus.
This was contained in a statement by NIWA in Lokoja, Kogi State, and made available to The Tide.
The statement reads: “Further to our earlier financial contributions, the Managing Director, National Inland Waterways Authority has authorised the release of the authority’s water buses, security patrol boats and other craft for use by relevant states and federal agencies in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
“These crafts are useful for moving personnel and materials to and from the riverine communities, as well as maintaining security on our inland waterways”.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Lagos Seaports and Marine Command, has arrested six stowaways at about 3 nautical miles off the Lagos fairway buoy.
The stowaways, who are all Nigerians, allegedly boarded a South Africa-bound vessel, MV GRAND DUKE with Panama flag along the Lagos channel while sailing at slow speed.
Public Relations Officer of the Command, Augustus Maisor, who disclosed this in a statement, identified the stowaways as Pedro Desmond Peter (27) from Borno State; Noah Osas Richard (24), Edo State; Eze Paul (36), Imo State; Elijah Sunday (35); Adewale Thompson Oki (29) and Paul Oguns (24), all from Ondo State.
The statement said in consonance with the NCDC guidelines on COVID-19, the stowaways (all male) were subjected to temperature check by Port Health officials before profiling by personnel of the command.
She said the six suspects would be handed over to the Police for interrogations and prosecutions.
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