The protracted strike that was embarked upon by truck drivers, and which has paralysed movement of cargoes out of the port since last week has been called-off
It was called-off yesterday after a closed door meeting that was called by the Nigerian Shippers’ Council. The meeting, which held at the Council’s head office in Apapa, was attended by the Nigerian Ports Authourity, Shippers’ Council, Nigeria Navy, leaders of Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMARTO), and others.
In attendance was the Commander NNS Beecroft, Commodore Okon Eyo and NPA’s General Manager, Marine and Operations; Mr Joshua Asanga.
Confirming the meeting and the calling-off of the strike to Shipping Position Daily, Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council; Mr Hassan Bello said the truckers have agreed to call-off the action.
He also assured that the truckers’ grievances were being looked into and that the Navy which had earlier withdrawn its personnel from traffic control into and out of Apapa has also agreed to rescind the decision.
Also confirming the call-off, the chairman of AMARTO, Chief Remi Ogungbemi said the meeting was at the instance of the Nigerian Shippers Council as the Economic Regulator of the ports.
However, he did not give details of the decisions that were reached, because he said he was at another meeting, he explained that he only excused himself to answer our correspondent’s call.
Speaking on the meeting, chairman of Dry Cargo Section of NARTO; Alhaji Abdul Inuwa said that those who attended the meeting agreed to call the strike off.
He confirmed that both the Shippers’ Council and the NPA have promised to address their grievances.
Hours before the strike was called off, licensed customs agents and freight forwarders had threatened to stop paying customs duties and other charges to terminal operators and shipping companies on account of the strike.
Speaking with Shipping Position Daily at Apapa port yesterday, customs agents who pleaded anonymity said that it was wrong for customs to keep collecting duty while demurrage and rent kept accruing for agents and importers to pay.
One of them who is a member of Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) said there should be an understanding after the strike action has been called off and the need for terminal operators to waive some demurrages.
"At Grimaldi now, people are still writing TDO, I have finished my job since last week but I have not taken the delivery, now I have to go and re-rate at N169,000"
"The transporters meant well, they have given enough time for NPA to address the situation and the alleged extortion"
"Government is collecting duty and that is why they don't want to intervene, and we are the cause of it, if we stop paying duty for two weeks and no money is going anywhere, they will seat up. But as it is, it doesn't concern them, the government has collected their money" he said.
Also speaking with journalists in his office yesterday, Deputy Comptroller in charge of Administration at Apapa Customs Command; Igbita JB noted that though customs is working presently, buy that if care is not taken, the strike might lead to a major port congestion.
Also speaking with Shipping Position Daily, a licensed Customs Agent, Mr Ojo Akintoye lamented that the nine days strike action is affecting port operations.
He however told our correspondent that: "The good news is that the truck owners are holding series of meetings with the government and they are looking for a permanent solution to the problem of articulated trucks"
"The strike has had nothing to do with revenue, the Nigeria Customs Service are collecting their revenue, the terminal operators are dropping containers for examination and they are also ready for the delivery of cargoes"
"The only thing is that it is now building up to port congestion because there is no space to put the containers", he said.