Truck operators in Nigeria have disclosed that the 30 per cent reduction in haulage charges is no longer viable.

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The operators stated that the directive was only for the COVID-19 lockdown period and could not be extended.

The reduction was proposed by the Nigerian Shippers’ Council to ease the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown.

The truckers also said while their rates were being reduced, barge operators maintained their rates, declaring that there was a need to create a level playing field for all operators.

At the start of the lockdown in March, the NSC and transport associations had agreed to review the haulage rates downwards by 30 per cent as part of their contribution to lessening the impact of the lockdown on businesses.

Truck owners attributed hiking the rates to the slow pace of the ongoing road construction along the Wharf Mile 12 corridor which was impeding truck movement.

They also explained that it did not make business sense for truck owners to keep their rates down while the barge operators failed to reduce theirs.

The Head of Operations, Council of Maritime Truck Unions and Associations, Inuwa Abdullahi, was quoted as saying that the continued decay in port infrastructure posed danger to the business.

Inuwa noted that haulage rate was a matter of demand and supply.

He confirmed that no fixed price was attached to the haulage charges at the moment but added that the current charge was well above the reduced rate introduced by the NSC.

He said the NSC should have engaged the barge operators to reduce their rate, noting that limiting it to just the truck sector sent a negative signal to the haulage subsector of the maritime industry.

The Public Relations Officer at West Africa Road Transport Union, Salami Nasiru, while commending the NSC’s intervention on haulage rates during the lockdown, said there was a need to create a level playing field for all stakeholders.

Meanwhile, the truck owners and operators along the Tin Can Island access roads to the ports have decried the dilapidated state of roads linking the ports from that axis.

The truckers said it was more profitable to ply the waterways than moving goods along the Tin Can Island roads.

The roads linking the Tin Can Island port terminal are in a state of disrepair even as the Federal Government continues the rehabilitation of the Wharf Mile 12 link roads.

The Secretary of the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria, Kirikiri Lighter Terminal Chapel, Godwin Ikeji, said the conditions of the roads had constituted a nightmare to its users as trucks kept spending endless days trying to access the ports.

The Chairman, Shipowners Forum, Mrs Magaret Orakwusi, on her part, lamented the damage and losses the bad roads posed to perishable agricultural goods exports.