Group alleges Arbitrary Increase in Haulage Fare by Transport unions at Onne Port

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By Bon Peters

There has been palpable tension at Onne Port in Rivers state, over what the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents ANLCA, Eastern Zone described as an alleged arbitrary increase in Haulage Fare by the transport unions, Maritime Flat and cargo and Freight Forwarding Transport, in connivance with the Nigeria Shippers council.

Trouble started last week our correspondent reports following an arbitrary increase in transport fare at Onne to about 200 percent according to the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents ANLCA.

In an exclusive interview with on the sidelines of an emergency meeting at Onne, Port Harcourt, the Rivers capital, the Zonal coordinator, ANLCA Eastern Zone, Mr Joshua Ahuama stated that “the recent attempt by the Truckers’ Association to increase transport rate by more than 200% is mostly unjust, unwarranted and inhibitive to trade. Hence, the freight forwarders’ Leadership moved and had an interface with the Nigerian Shippers Council.”

Ahuama regretted that after all valid arguments have been made on the matter, the South-South Zonal Director of the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Mr. Glory Onojedo felt compelled, and put a call across to the Truckers’ Association, directing them to suspend the implementation of the new rate, pending the conclusion of all necessary deliberations on the matter.”

He said his association was piqued at the behaviour of the transport unions who, according to him, walked out of a meeting between ANLCA, Nigerian Shippers council and the transport unions chatting solidarity songs vowing to stand on their mandate.

Ahuama insisted that the Freight forwarders’ Leadership requested that the Nigerian Shippers Council should put her instruction and directive to the Truckers in writing to allow for concrete evidence and ease of reference.

Adding that the truckers union have refused to revert to the old rate but rather had gone ahead to implement the new price regime even to the extent of locking up some trucks that have refused to increase their fares.

He wondered why the increment at this time, according to him, when the roads have improved due to the various construction and rehabilitation works going on in the south/South and South East.

Recall that in May 2022, the two transport unions, Maritime Flat and Cargo and Freight Forwarding transport unions clashed over what those in the Maritime industry described as an unwarranted and astronomical increase in transport fare of containers from the port to their destinations and who controls the park.

The development resulted in free for all and damage beyond repair two vehicles, a Toyota Sienna Car and a Mitsubishi bus, belonging to the two unions including their office, a 40 foot container which an eyewitness say was lifted with bare hands and turned upside down by the warring factions.

The incident resulted in the loss of billions of naira to the Federal Government and Maritime business stakeholders until the intervention of the Nigerian Shippers council and other relevant authorities.

But, in this case, the freight Forwarders said they perceived an alleged unholy union between the transporters, Nigerian Shippers council and the Nigerian Ports Authority to extort the freight Forwarders and the Shipping companies.

Ahuama said, “The refusal of the Nigerian Shippers Council to put their directive in writing is strong evidence and indictment against them, and only indicates that they are in cahoots with the Truckers to extort Agents. This is quite disheartening, considering that a Council that should model transparency and help in facilitating trade has made itself a cheap tool for manipulation and treachery, for the shameful reason of undue financial benefit. “

He added,” We are insisting that due process must be followed towards arriving at what’s fair to all concerned. All necessary Parties must be consulted and considered. Only then can a fair rate be actualized.”

Warning “And we are also putting all relevant authorities and interested parties on notice that if the Shippers Council fails to put their directive in writing, and ensure that status quo remains within a reasonable time, that we the Agents are going to ;

1) Engage the services of other transport companies who are not members of their unions

2) Will resist any attempt of any form from them to prevent other non Union trucks/drivers to load out cargo from the port

3) We prevent them from having access to the port by upholding the position of the law as regards haulage in the port and

4) May withdraw our Services if Nigerian ports Authorities do not wade in and exercise their authority on this issue.

We are crying out so that the Nigerian public and traders will understand that we have explored all peaceful avenues to resolve this matter and promote, facilitate and protect the Nigerian trading public.

The rippling effects of this will geometrically hike the prices of goods in the market in an already tensed situation in the country.

This may disrupt the peace and tranquility in the south EASTERN Ports

However, as at the time of filling this report, every attempt to reach the two transport unions leaders proved abortive as their phone numbers continued to say you are not allowed to call these numbers.

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