FG backs private sector investors on 2,000 trucks acquisition plan

The Federal Government has thrown its full weight behind the partnership between the Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO) and Multi-Trade Nigeria Limited, an indigenous company, which is expected to lead to the acquisition of brand new trucks for the members of the association to be deployed for lifting of containers from the nation’s seaports. Under the deal, Multi-Trade is also to supply members of the association a total of 2,000 units of brand new Mack trucks to the association under a 25-year hire purchase scheme.

Senior Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on maritime services, Mr. Leke Oyewole, who commended the initiative of the indigenous company, noted that the deployment of 2000 would positively affect operations at the seaports, which have been bogged down by rickety and over-aged trucks which constitute a nuisance on the roads. According to him, not only will the deal bring about sanity on port access roads, which have over the years been littered with rickety and unserviceable trucks, thus causing traffic gridlocks, it will enhance efficiency port operations.

It was gathered that the 25-year deal will also include the development a multi-million truck terminal located at the Trade Fair Complex with a capacity of over 5,000, which would serve as a holding bay for the trucks, which would now go in turns to pick or drop containers to forestall any chaos on the port roads.

“I wish to commend the efforts and resilience of Alhaji Dantata, Chairman of Multi-Trade in going into partnership with the truck owners, which is healthy for the port industry in particular and the nation’s economy in general”, he said. He also said: “The deployment of 2000 brand new trucks to lift containers will bring about a lot of transformation to the system, which the Federal Government alone could not have done effectively”.

The presidential aide noted that the provision of the truck terminal, which has hotel and other lodging facilities would enable the truck drivers to relax in a good environment, observe some rest while waiting for their turns, a development that would reduce the carnage on the roads caused by the fact that the drivers may not have relaxed before embarking on the next journey.

He, however, challenged other private sector operators to partner the government in its efforts to transform the Nigerian nation’s economy, arguing that government alone cannot do much without the support and cooperation of such operators. Chairman of the association, Chief Remi Ogungbemi, who spoke in Lagos, had disclosed that the decision of the association, which is also fusing with other sister groups such as the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) and National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), is to rid the nation’s roads of old and rickety trucks.

According to him, the association has over the years been worried by the state of most of the trucks that lift consignments from the nation’s seaports, most of which broke down on the road thus causing untold hardship to other road users. He had also disclosed that in the absence of any form of funding or incentive from anywhere, the members had to stick to what they had, but assured that with the current arrangement, most of such trucks would be out of the road.

It was also gathered that the members of the association had over the years been groaning under the high handedness of operatives of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), who have continued to impound their trucks and impose huge fines on them ranging from N200, 000, N250, 000 and sometimes N350, 000. It was further gathered that the truck terminal at the International Trade Fair Complex is being built on a large parcel of land in excess of 50 acres of land with a capacity of over 5, 000 trucks.

The AMATO- boss had also disclosed that the first batch of the trucks numbering about 120 have actually arrived at one of the seaports in Lagos, while the arrival of the second batch is being delayed by the decision of the Nigeria Customs Service to impose duty on the first batch, which both parties are currently trying to work out.

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