By Eromosele Abiodun
Following failure by the federal government to fix the dilapidated access roads to the nationâ€™s ports in Apapa Lagos, more than 400 trucks have left Apapa and Tincan port areas in the past one year, the Chairman of Road Transport Employersâ€™ Association of Nigeria (RTEAN), Musa Mohammed has said.
Mohammed, who disclosed this in a chat with Journalists in Lagos, stated that majority of RTEAN members had left the truck business and delved into other ventures because they could no longer cope with state of the roads.
According to Mohammed, the problem on the port access road is affecting his members as containers keep falling daily.
While urging the government to urgently address the situation, Musa who was represented by the stateâ€™s Public Relations Officer (PRO), Comrade Abayomi Afini, said that RTEAN had written several letters to the National Assembly, Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA), and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) but there was no response to the effect.
â€œTwo years ago, FERMA came, surveyed the area, and took some palliative measures which were washed off by the rain. The port access road requires a standard construction that will last long,â€ he said.
Chairman, RTEAN, Tin Can chapter, Isiaka Olalere also complained of how the dilapidated road have affected their trucks, a situation he said is making members sell off their trucks as scraps.
According to him, â€œWe are going out of the business gradually, because if you go to trailer parks, you will see truck owners cutting their trucks into parts and selling them. A truck owner with seven trucks last cannot boast of two due to the bad and dilapidated access roads. It is affecting our business seriously. Immediately the truck falls on the road, it becomes scrap as it will no longer be balance.
â€œToday most truck owners are cutting their trucks and selling as scraps as the dilapidated road is affecting their businesses. Anyone that invests in truck business now will soon run out of business because where you are supposed to go two to three trips a day, you will not go more than once in a week due to the bad roads. The people you see buy new trucks daily are those that donâ€™t know much about the road aspect of the port.â€
On alleged recklessness on the part of drivers parking on the roads and obstructing other road users, Olalere blamed the issue on lack of functional holding bay to drop empty containers. He said that the association ensured they educated their drivers regularly to ensure compliance on their trucks to meet minimum standard.
â€œThe problem does not lie on the part of transporters. We donâ€™t have functional holding bay. Some of the shipping companies do not have functional holding bay to drop empty containers, the drivers have to bring them back to the port, thereby causing gridlock on the access roads. That is why you see our vehicles littered on the road.
â€œWe even advise our members them that rather than having four substandard trucks they should dispose two and use the proceeds to repair the other two to a standard level and they are complying. We are in support of minimum standard and we are repairing our vehicles, â€he explained
Afini added that lack of unity among the various truck owners associations in the port contributed to NPAâ€™s success of collecting the fee for the stickers even as he blamed the government for not sticking to the two recognized associations notable in the transport sector.
â€œLast year, NPA came out with the issue of stickers, that sticker issue has been there for six years but because there are many associations in the port that is why we have the problems we have today. If the government had been dealing with the two major associations, that is, the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and RTEAN, there wouldnâ€™t have been the problems we have today in the port.