Shippers Council’s headquarters, Apapa, Lagos

Francis Ezem

Worried by the non-adherence to health precautions by truckers and other related transport service providers in the port industry, especially under the current COVID-19 pandemic, the management of Nigerian Shippers’ Council, port economic regulator has convened a meeting with haulers with a view to sensitising them.

Meanwhile, the truckers have also accepted a proposal by the Council to effect a 30 per cent downward review of their haulage rate during the lockdown imposed by the Federal Government to curtail the spread of the virus in Nigeria.

In another development, the management also visited the Ports and Terminal Multi-Services Limited PTML, one of the major terminals at the Tin Can Island Ports Complex, as part of efforts to further prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the port community. The visit was to assess the compliance of the terminal with health and safety guidelines.

At the one-hour meeting held in Lagos Wednesday, the Council expressed worries that truckers are not taking specified precautions as issued by health authorities in the country, reminding them that such lackluster attitude in addition to endangering their lives and those of their family members, could make them spread the virus in the course of their travels across the country.

In addition to the non-adherence to health guidelines, the duo also discussed the urgent need for the haulers to moderate and standardise their haulage rates.

The haulers, who in the course of the meeting drew the attention of the Council to some of challenges they faced, which include extortion and the unwillingness of some freight forwarders to take delivery of their consignments due to the pandemic, however agreed to reduce their haulage rate by 30 per cent during the period of the lockdown, especially given the light traffic, which makes movement easier.

The management of the Council thanked the truckers for accepting its proposals on health, safety and standardisation of their rates and assured them that it would look into all the challenges with a view to finding lasting solutions in the overall interest of all stakeholders and the Nigerian nation.

Meanwhile, the Health, Safety and Environment HSE officer at the PTML, who received the Council’s delegation, said the management of the terminal recognises the potential havoc the disease can wreak on the business.

According to him, it is this consciousness that the management has introduced strict enforcement of health and safety standards on the premises, which include the use of hand sanitisers, gloves and face masks, in addition to constant enlightenment on the importance of personal hygiene and social distancing.

The management of PTML expressed appreciation to the Council for not dropping the ball even before the lockdown was imposed by government.

The Council in turn commended PTML for constantly striving to maintain international standards and urged the terminal to keep up the good work.