The widening gulf in trade unionism in Nigeria may have caught up with freight forwarders and truckers who commenced their sit-at-home strike yesterday, as some of their members in the western ports have distanced themselves from the action.
Recall that truckers under the aegis of the Amalgamation of Trucking Associations with Other Stakeholders in the Maritime Industry (ATAOSMI), withdrew all trucks and their services from yesterday, following a stalemate in their discussion with government.
The notice of withdrawal of service signed by the Chairman of the Amalgamation, Victor Nnyosum, and sent to major stakeholders in Apapa, said the joint body resolved to withdraw their service due to the deplorable state of the Tin Can/Apapa roads which, according to them, has been responsible for the destruction of trucks, goods and even loss of lives.
But the Chairman, Joint Council of Seaports Truckers (JCOST), Alhaji Kayode Odunowo, maintained that the joint group of truck owners were not part of the proposed strike.
“We only saw stickers and flyers everywhere about the strike but the truth is that we were not part of it, we were not informed and not carried along. Therefore, we are not part of it,” he said.
Also reacting, the Chairman, Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN), Tin Can Island chapter, Alhaji Isiaka Olalere, said the core operators in haulage business from the industry were not aware of any proposed strike. The RTEAN chieftain maintained that other truck owners’ associations are not part of the proposed strike, adding that the JCOST is not in the picture of the protest or withdrawal of service.
Olalere said the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) should be held responsible for the actions. He faulted the council for failing to intervene on issues affecting truck owners in the sector, pointing out that there is no enabling environment for truckers in the ports system to thrive.
However, in another development, the Public Relations Officer of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Stanley Ezenga, said there was no going back on the proposed service withdrawal.
Ezenga said the meeting of the Executive Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of NSC, Hassan Bello, with truck owners and clearing agents in Lagos on Sunday was not enough to stop the strike.
He said that stakeholders at the meeting insisted on the strike because the government has not shown any sign of seriousness by putting palliative measures in place during the 45-day ultimatum issued to the government.
“At the meeting with the Executive Secretary of NSC, Mr. Hassan Bello, the ES, prevailed on the participants to withdraw the intended strike. The meeting was an enlarged forum because all the stakeholders were adequately represented. AMATO, NARTO, RETEAN, FLEET OWNERS, COTOAN, NAGAFF, ANLCA, COTINA, etc.
“However, members were of the opinion that his plea is rather too late, having received notice for withdrawal of service 45 days ago. We believe that if the government is sincere, palliative measures should have been in place. If by today’s morning we see caterpillars, dumpers and other earth-moving equipment on site, we can advise our members to stay action.”
Bello, according to Ezenga, promised to reach out to the highest organ of government in finding a lasting solution to the lingering issues.