Truck Owners Reject New Traffic Law in Lagos, Threatens Strike

Even as reactions have continued to trail the signing into law of the bill restricting the movement of trailers on Lagos roads between the hours of 6am and 9pm by the Lagos State Governor; Babatunde Fashola (SAN), truck owners and drivers operating in Lagos have rejected the law saying that its cumulative effect will bring down the economy of Nigeria.

The truck drivers under the aegis of Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO) have also threatened that if the Lagos State Government refuses to revoke the law, truck drivers will be embarking on a nationwide strike action.

Executives of the association as well as other sister associations like the National Association of Road Transport Owners (NATO) and the Joint Council of Seaport Truckers, took turns to address their members at a sensitization program held in Lagos yesterday. Members of association and truck drivers also condemned the omission of the petroleum tankers from the law saying that the action is highly political.

According to the truck owners, the action of the Lagos state government is totally against the trade facilitation and 48 hours cargo clearance target of the federal government.

National Chairman of AMATO, Chief Remi Ogungbemi in his speech declared the traffic law as ‘dead on arrival’ because it is going to have a negative effect on the lives and properties of the truck owners as well as on drivers of the trucks, he appealed to the Lagos state government to amend the law because presently there is no adequate security and good roads for the trucks to ply.

“This regulation is not favorable, it says we can only operate from 9pm to 6am, can government guarantee the safety of the lives and properties of our members? Do they have the mercenaries to protect them; these are question that is begging for an answer, we are appealing to government to help us resign that decision for the interest of our own sector” Ogungbemi said.

He maintained that truck drivers are not to be blamed for the frequent traffic congestions in Lagos and that the problem is largely due to bad roads and negligence on the part of the government.

Also speaking, Chairman of the Joint Council of Seaport Truckers, Mr. Kayode Odunowo lamented that the state government failed to call stakeholders and ask for their inputs before signing the bill into law last week.

Odunowo also complained that privatization of the ports has further added to the traffic situation in Lagos State as all the parking spaces for trucks has been concessioned to private operators.

“In the history of Nigeria we have never had such a law, when you move in the morning you will pray to God not to be robbed by thieves how much more when you now ask them to move at night, these are some of the reasons why we said we will not agree to it”

Another member of AMATO, Mr. Chiaka Nwaogu called for the cooperation of the members whenever the strike action begins. He encouraged the truck drivers that in as much as the government has not gazetted the law they should still go about their business and not be afraid.

“They have passed it into law but they have not gazetted it, so nobody should be afraid of going into the port to operate, go and do your businesses until they will gazetted it, and I know for sure that laws are made for human beings and at the same time you can repeal the law, they will see our action soon”

“The road is not there, the terminal operators will still ask you leave the port so where are you going to park, there is no way we are going to accept that law, we will do everything we can to fight the policy because it’s just too bad” Chiaka said.

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