From Judex Okoro, Calabar
No fewer than 1,000 dump truckers from Akwa Ibom and Cross River have protested invasion of haulage business by foreigners.
The truckers, in the name of Dump Truckers Association, accused some firms operating in both states of some shoddy deals that undermine the interest of their members.
The protesters, which converged on the Odukpani Junction in Calabar, yesterday, carried placards with various inscriptions. They particularly accused the management of Sterling Oil and Gas of deceiving members of the association by making them take loans to acquire 250 trucks before abandoning them.
National Chairman of the Association, Michael Asuquo, said the essence of the peaceful demonstration is on the account of foreigners coming to take over our business.
“We are here to tell Nigerians that enough is enough, that our people should rise and support us because the Chinese and Indians have taken over haulage activities in Cross River and Akwa Ibom.
“Sterling Oil and Gas is in Nigeria for oil and gas activities but today, they have gone to import over 400 trucks, after deceiving us to take loans from banks and buy trucks. And after two months of operation, they just stopped us without notice and the following week they brought in 400 or more trucks to take over haulage activities.
“There was an understanding that we were going to handle their haulage activities and they gave us the commitment to handle hauling of granite. The laws are there and we are asking that the law should take it’s course.
“We have taken loans from commercial banks and for the past four months we have not been in business. We have lost over a billion monthly since this started and we are also paying back bank loans.
“The nearest axle loads is between sixty to eighty tonnes but as I speak to you they are running with 120 to 140 tonnes, spoiling our roads and refusing to pay taxes”, he said.
Vice Chairman of the association, Dafe Anene, said haulage is a cottage industry that we must promote, adding that if the government does not put a stop to this, unemployment in the state will escalate because cottage industries will be killed.