The Chairman of the Lagos State Truck and Cargo Operators Committee (LASTCOC), Alhaji Lukman Shittu Zangalo, has issued a fervent call for urgent intervention to prevent a deepening crisis within the ranks of maritime transport operators in Lagos.
Zangalo in a letter dated 14/01/2024, addressed to truckers and members of the Port Community System and obtained by our correspondent, highlighted a brewing crisis between the National Association of Maritime Transport Operators (NAMTOP) factions, while emphasizing the need for urgent intervention to avert a potential industry-wide crisis.
The letter accused one Yinka Aroyewun, allegedly an impostor President of a defunct association, of splintering and forming a parallel body, NAMTOP, in defiance of the majority’s recognition of Alhaji Lukman Shittu Zangalo as the State Chairman.
Zangalo in the letter contended that the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) establishing the Council of Maritime Truck Unions and Associations (COMTUA) was terminated on 20/07/2023, citing Aroyewun’s alleged selfish motives, contempt, and instigation of violence against authorities and stakeholders.
The LASTCOC chairman asserted that COMTUA no longer exists or recognized by law, labeling Yinka Aroyewun as an impostor President of a terminated association.
Zangalo further blamed the factionalization of NAMTOP for the failure of truckers to form a unified body as directed by the Lagos State Government.
He explained that the legal vacuum led to the formation of LASTCOC, tasked with managing the affairs of truck and cargo operators to achieve the goals of the Ease of Doing Transportation Business Policy.
He explained that both factions of NAMTOP have equal representation in LASTCOC, even as he described the recent actions by Yinka Aroyewun and his faction as a conspiracy to reverse progress in traffic orderliness and instigate confrontations.
He added that Aroyewun had earlier given his support for the harmonized Lagos State Government ticket, aimed at ending multiple imposition tickets.
Zangalo lamented that the sudden change in stance is portrayed as hypocritical, with allegations of double taxation arising due to the inability of NAMTOP to manage the ticket.
The letter urges stakeholders to disregard previous petitions against LASTCOC, describing them as motivated by personal greed and selfish interests while expressing commitment to working with authorities, unions, and relevant stakeholders to promote trade facilitation, seamless cargo evacuation, free-flowing traffic, and ease of doing business in the industry.
Meanwhile, in another letter dated the same day and addressed to Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwolu, the Executive Governor of Lagos State, Zangalo refuted earlier claims by Aroyewun about the alleged imposition of illegal taxation on truckers by the LASTCOC. Aroyewun had accused the committee of using its influence to extract money under the guise of harmonizing fees, leading to potential double taxation.
In response, Zangalo refuted Aroyewun’s claims, pointing out that the Ministry of Transportation mandated the committee to adopt legal means to harmonize fees approved by the State government.
He highlighted ongoing efforts by the committee, under the administration of Mr. Babajide Sanwoolu and Special Adviser Hon. Sola Giwa, to eradicate double taxation and illegal dues, with potential annual savings of tens of billions of Naira for truckers.
The letter also disputed Aroyewun’s assertion that committee members lost in an election bid, clarifying that such claims are presumptuous and contemptuous of a pending court case.
He alleged that Aroyewun’s allegations are deliberate attempt to cause a crisis and involvement of the Special Adviser, Hon. Sola Giwa, are dismissed as baseless, with accusations of Aroyewun’s tendency to switch allegiances and incite discord within the industry.
He further called on relevant security agencies to question Aroyewun and hold him responsible for any potential breakdown of law and order.
The Chairman of LASTCOC advised Aroyewun to let the civil court case run its course, while expressing concern that Aroyewun’s actions may be a prelude to unleashing violence in Lagos.