By Steve Agbota, Lagos
The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) and the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) has entered into strategic partnership to reduce traffic gridlock along the port access roads with a view to ease cargo and vehicular movement in and out of the ports.
Part of the partnership is to enhance the regulation of trucks at Nigerian seaports, dry ports and jetties, at a proposed cost of N3,000 per truck
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The two bodies stated this at the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Lagos, said the partnership seeks to create driver/dockworkers welfare, creation of insurance scheme as well as protect members of MWUN and NARTO in all dry ports, seaports and jetties.
The collaboration is also expected to extend to all seaports, jetties, terminals and warehouses across the country.
However, President General of MWUN, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju, signed on behalf of the union while the National President of NARTO, Yusuf Lawal Othman, inked the partnership for NARTO.
Speaking at the signing of the MoU and inauguration of the management committee comprising members of both MWUN and NARTO, Comrade Adeyanju said the partnership is geared towards addressing the Apapa gridlock especially along the Mile 2- Tin Can Island port road, which is causing untold suffering to truck drivers and other port users.
According to him, MWUN being a union of repute that has been reformed would only partner with responsible associations like NARTO noting that the era of working with groups who have no regard for the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) is gone.
While pointing the attention of the management committee to the failure of previous collaboration with the Council of Maritime Transport Union Associations (COMTUA), Adeyanju urged them to work with Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) and other relevant agencies in the port to ensure the success of the initiative.
He added: “To us as unionists, we believe in a marriage of convenience. We believe in working together with responsible associations because Maritime Workers of Nigeria today is reformed to standards that can compare with other reputable associations in the country.
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“We have been working with NARTO for a long time and we have never found them wanting but the era of working with people who have no regard for management of NPA and for the country is gone. I pray this collaboration will be one of the best that the industry will ever witness.”
He said over the years, there have been congestion on the port roads and MWUN coming together with some stakeholders is to reduce the suffering of the workers and the stakeholders that are working in the port.
“But we found out that the people we collaborated with in the past are not sincere with us and that was why we had to quit. However, with this new partnership, I believe it is going to have a positive effect and the industry will witness a peaceful atmosphere in terms of the congestion on the port access roads and there is no way we can do that without working with the management of NPA.
“If the roads are good, no investor will run away from the country but if the roads are bad, no investor will come in. So, with this new partnership with NARTO, it is a signal of good things to come to everybody in the maritime sector,” he said.
Also speaking at the event, National President of NARTO, Yusuf Lawal Othman, expressed delight over the partnership, saying his association will leverage the existing relationship between MWUN to ensure the success of the initiative.
He assured that the partnership will restore sanity and eliminate indiscriminate parking of trucks as well as all forms of illegal fees collection on the port access roads.
“Today, we signed a very important MoU between NARTO and MWUN with a view to collaborating and our collaboration encompasses all aspects of our activities both in the seaport and outside the seaport where MWUN and NARTO is.
“We are going to ensure we have sanity in the system and we will make sure that the management committee that has just been inaugurated will sit down immediately and map out strategies to ensure excesses on the street such as indiscriminate parking, collection of fees and touts are eliminated,” he said.