By Steve Agbota, [email protected]
The conceptualization and the development of Truck Transit Parks (TTPs), now called Vehicle Transit Areas (VTAs), will provide convenient rest areas for truckers and other road users to ensure the safety of lives and cargoes, these were the words of the Executive Security/CEO of Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Mr. Hassan Bello.
Today, road is dominant mode of transportation of cargo in Nigeria, as more than 70 per cent cargo movement is being done by road across the country. This is because road transportation in Nigeria remains the most popular form of transportation, due to the disadvantages associated with the other mode of transportation.
Moving cargoes and people from one place to another is critical to maintaining a strong economic development in any giving nation like Nigeria.
However, cargoes in Nigeria are majorly moved and transported from the seaports to all the various states in the country by trucks through roads. In the process of transiting these cargoes, most of the trucks either breakdown or involve in an accident.
These accidents are sometimes associated with drivers’ fatigue and other avoidable factors. Daily Sun learnt that most of the drivers who convey these cargoes travel a long distance without rest.
Aside the accidents, sometimes when these trucks break down on the road, it would prolong the days the goods spend on the road before getting to its destination.
The high spate of truck accidents in the country was attributed to the utilisation of expired trucks with over 90 per cent of such vehicles exceeding the 30-year expiration period, according to the Federal Roads Safety Corps (FRSC).
In order to surmount these challenges, NSC and the FRSC have entered into collaboration aimed at significantly reducing carnage on the roads and protect lives and properties.
The duo also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to set standards for truck owners and drivers for effective service delivery anchored on standard compliance.
Speaking at a meeting in Lagos, the NSC boss, Hassan Bello, said that the efficient utilisation of VTAs would ensure efficient and effective service delivery across the nation’s transport chain and reduce accidents resulting from drivers’ fatigue.
According to him, the MoU is intended to generate a database on trucks, training, VTA implementation, public education, enlightenment and others.
He said the purpose of the meeting was to deliberate on the way forward toward providing solutions to transport infrastructure deficit and other operational challenges in the cargo logistics value chain.
He added that the corps marshal’s support of NSC projects and activities had accelerated the achievements of major milestones in the development of critical infrastructure for trade facilitation.
He said, to facilitate the development of critical transport infrastructure, which supports trade and standards enforcement, the council was promoting two major transport infrastructure, namely Inland Dry Ports and VTA project.
He hinted that the development of the VTA to provide convenient rest facilities for truckers as conceptualised by the Shippers’ Council is aimed at furthering safety of truckers and goods, including other category of road users.
He said: “NSC also has the mandate to ensure efficient and effective service delivery is enforced across the transport chain. Our partnership between the NSC and the FRSC has recorded reasonable landmarks, especially in traffic management and safety of cargo in transit.”
Meanwhile, FRSC Corps Marshal, Dr. Boboye Oyeyemi, lamented that some truck accidents occur because most truck heads are pulling more than they were built to handle, while others carrying the actual size have already outlived their lifespan.
Another issue which leads to accidents as pointed out by the Corps Marshal, was that several trucks in the nation operate without taillights and tailboard reflectors that should enable other road users quickly spot trucks at night. He stressed the need for an intervention from the Federal Government to ensure truckers had fleet renewal as vehicles that had been on the road for 30 years should be scrapped.
He commended Shippers Council idea and the establishment of Vehicle Transit Area (VTA) project, which he described as ingenious; and called for more stakeholders’ engagement to achieve the desired results even as harped on need for engagement rather than by enforcement.
On the Apapa traffic gridlock, the Corps Marsal pledged to work with NSC in a bid to proffer lasting solutions to the traffic menace, adding that he would also engage the Ministry of Works and the Vice President Yemi Osibanjo on the issue.
“With effective collaboration between FRSC, Shippers’ Council and other stakeholders, we can get the desired results to eliminate the gridlock.
These stakeholders have keyed into the MoU to address several critical areas of road haulage.
“With the full implementation of the MoU and other plans with NSC and other stakeholders, we should see a new road haulage system in the country in terms of minimum safety standards, training of truck drivers, linkages in terms of access to drivers licence database for truck operators as well as the Apapa traffic situation. NSC will work out the immediate implementation because we are talking about actions that lead to the loss of lives and valuable properties,” Boboye said.
The Assistant Director, Inland Transport Service Department at NSC, Mr Nanbol Nanle, said that the VTA project would need a public-private partnership to thrive.
Nanle pointed out that the main objective of the project was to provide a place of rest for truck operators, and a measure of comfort for them to reduce fatigue and accidents on the roads.
He said that the facility would include a mechanic workshops, hotels, health centre, police posts, fuel stations, warehousing, weighbridge, fire services, cave area, and others.
Also, the Chairman of Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO), Chief Remi Ogungbemi, pledged support of truck operators to the new initiatives by FRSC and NSC.
He, however, noted that most used trucks imported into Nigeria are outdated vehicles that have failed the roadworthiness test in foreign countries.
According to him, the tough fiscal environment for truck operators in Nigeria, coupled with the extortion and poor state of Nigerian roads are factors that lead to rickety and outdated trucks.
Source: Nigerian Newspapers Online