Agents, Truckers Bow To Government   

•To Call-Off Strike Today    

There is strong indication that the two-day old strike called by an amalgamation of freight forwarders and truckers will be called-off today (Wednesday).This followed a high-level meeting which held yesterday between the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authourity (NPA); Hadiza Balla Usman, and the duo of the President of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA); Prince Olayiwola Shittu and the Founder of National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF); Dr Boniface Aniebonam.The meeting, which was at the instance of the NPA MD was part of the NPA chief executive’s overtures to the various groups which have succeeded in paralysing activities at the ports since Monday.Although details of the meeting were not made public, a source who was present confirmed to Shipping Position Daily that the NPA boss reiterated the assurances that she gave on Monday when she and the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers Council; Mr Hassan Bello met with stakeholders after an exhaustive tour of the failed portions of the Apapa Oshodi expressway, especially the parts leading to Tin Can Island port.Confirming the meeting also, an executive member of ANLCA, who pleaded not to be named assured that “the strike may be called-off by 12noon today (Wednesday).The NPA boss had held at the extended stakeholders meeting with the striking port operators on Monday assured of the agency’s resolve to raise N4.3billion to fix the roads leading into Apapa port and Tin Can Island port.He assured the stakeholders that construction work on the roads would begin in the next two weeks at the Apapa - wharf end, while the roads on the Tin Can Island and Coconut end would kick-start in a month.Hadiza also assured that the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing had transferred the road reconstructions to the NPA and that approval for the commencement would be secured  at the Federal Executive Council  (FEC) meeting.Speaking, she said "Flour Mills and Dangote group are providing N2.5billion as CSR for the Wharf Road construction, but the full construction of the road which includes proving full utility provision of drainage among others is placed at N4.3billion. Within one month, they would deploy men to site to start work""As we got to the conclusion of the 2017 budget, we realised that they did not make any budgetary provision for this road. We only had N7 billion for the Tin Can island road and this is the only budgetary provision they had. I felt concerned and as NPA we want the roads done irrespective of which agency is in charge, we have told the minister we are ready to fund this road" she said.Meanwhile, truckers said yesterday that they have relaxed their participation in the withdrawal of services. In an exclusive chat with Shipping Position Daily, Chairman of Association of Maritime Transport Owners, who is also a member of the organizing committee of the nationwide strike; Chief Remi Ogungbemi confirmed that there was a meeting yesterday, where it was agreed that they should  give the government a-one day grace to see what they can do to meet up with their demands. In his words he said: “The withdrawal of services by truckers has been relaxed. Let’s give the government a day grace and see what they want to do if at the end they didn’t do anything; we will go back to the withdrawal of services. For those who said they were not carried along, I want them to know that it was not a deliberate action”.