Truckers Link Insecurity, Bad Roads To Nigeria’s Poor Haulage System
The Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO) bemoaned infrastructural decay and insecurity as the twin problems of the nation’s haulage industry.
The association pleaded with the government to urgently rehabilitate the roads.
The AMATO Chairman, Chief Remi Ogungbemi, the Administration Secretary, Mohammed Sani Bala and Operations Chieftain, Adesina Ajibola highlighted the industry pains in a chat with our correspondent.
Ogungbemi recalled that in the past, truckers charged only N120,000 to move containers from the Apapa Port to Ikeja, noting that truckers could run three trips per day.
He lamented that the dearth of infrastructure and the growing infrastructural decay, soaring multiple businesses and government negligence had worsened the industry which can no longer offer peace of mind like thirty, forty years ago
He said: “The port remains the same, but so many things have changed, especially the volumes of the things that are coming into the ports have increased and (this is) not only the imports, (but) even the export have also increased and, still increasing. Other business activities are also increasing.
“The number of trucks that we have in the port has increased tremendously”.
“Unlike the growth in activities, the infrastructure remains stagnant and decaying. That’s why we cannot compare the haulage industry now to the haulage industry then.
“In the industry then, we didn’t have much traffic as we have it now. One truck can make two trips to Ibadan or Ondo state, and a truck can take two to three trips within the Lagos environment in those days”.
“Now, it is difficult to make a trip, in one week. Things have changed, but the infrastructure that is supposed to change, improve and increase (changes) remains as it was about 30, 40 years ago.”
The chairman called the attention of the government to the rough roads everywhere, particularly between Apapa and Oshodi, explaining that before the Naira was devalued, the cost of moving cargoes from Apapa within the Lagos environment was around N1,000.
The AMATO Administration Secretary, Mohammed Bala also evaluated unfolding development, from the advent of insecurity and the price truckers now pay over infrastructural decay.
Bala highlighted that every pronounced porthole area had been turned into ‘black spots’, for multiple extortions by miscreants and sometimes, those who should prevent miscreants’ menace.
He was pained that bad roads location has become places for ruthless robbery and container hijacks.
According to him, “Those days, you hardly hear of issues of container burglars, container diversion; hijacking of trucks from drivers, or also the problem of extortion and policemen shooting our drivers over refusal to give bribes and all sort of things like that.
“However, with the rising volume of importation, without a corresponding increase in the level of infrastructure, like the road expansion, bridge and terminal expansions, to support the corresponding increase in the volume of trucks, situations have changed.
“These attracted a lot of challenges like burgling of containers, multiple extortions of trucks at checkpoints by hoodlums, and so on.”
He noted that the containers coming from the port were often waylaid and burgled as they approached Ijora in Lagos, saying that in some cases containers were hijacked from the drivers.
He said that the association had written several letters to the relevant authorities, but the efforts each time ended in futility.
Bala urged the Government to urgently improve the road network, as bad roads now create opportunities for container ambush.
Also, Ajibola x-rayed the economic impact, describing it as a terrible chain reaction, ignited by bad roads, hoodlums attacks and other environmental challenges which ensures that containers that hitherto took two days to deliver in Kano, now sometimes, take weeks.