… Says Alhaji Sikiru Kaka, Chairman, NARTO, Lagos State, Nigeria
NATA News: What are the challenges so far?
Sikiru: We are facing challenges as it regards to the perennial gridlock in Apapa area. We are having the challenge of reaching out to the government on some of the issues bothering the association couple with the unfulfilled promises made by government agencies like the NPA, Federal Ministry of Power, Housing & Works on the reconstruction of Apapa-Oshodi-Oworonshoki Expressway, even as they have carried the flag off of that road. It is until that road is constructed that we will have relief of movement of cargos and services.
NATA News: Stakeholders accused rickety and weak trucks that always breakdown in the ports as part of the reasons why we still witness delays in the ports and that the association body to which the owners of those trucks belong to are not doing anything to regulate and control it. What is your take on this?
Sikiru: It is a continuous exercise by keeping truckers on their toes as it regards to the physical appearances of their trucks. If you look around now, you will found out there is total downturn around in the country and the charges charged at the ports fall to our own detriment thereby creating low income for members and which will affect maintenance because taking care of trucks is not easy but that does not mean that you will not put your trucks in good order since you are in business.
NATA News: What effort have you made to checkmate these trucks on periodic basis?
Sikiru: By NARTO structure, we have wet cargo sector, dry cargo sector and commuter.
If you look at the Wet Cargo Sector; the safety requirements by marketers is very high. In this case, there is free and Post Loading Inspection at the marketers depot which the safety standards are checkmated by MOMAN, the association body covering the major oil marketers and they emphasized more on the type of Trucks that comes in and out of their depots.
When you come to Dry Cargo Sector, the safety requirements directly falls on the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), because they solely have the authority to check and regulate trucks that meet up with the safety requirements of the Nigerian Ports Authority.
NATA News: How have the National Association of Road Transport Owners contributed to the economy of Nigeria?
Sikiru: We have contributed tremendously, because after the Federal and State Governments which are the largest employers of labor, next is the National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO).
If you look at it logistically, the country lives on oil and we are the ones that carry this oil products from the depots to other designated places all over the country. Note that; in the process of doing this, you will employ the services of a driver and you will also employ the services of 2-3 motor boys and by the time you finished this, you will find out that the families of these people are taken care of.
In addition, when we pay our service charges, licensing other things direct or indirect to both the State and the Federal Governments. So, you can now see that we are contributing to the economic growth of the nation.
NATA News: Do you train/retrain your members on proper ways of road usage to help reduce Road Crashes?
Sikiru: Yes! We retrain and sensitize our drivers in conjunction with the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) and some other government agencies. We also have a training institute at Alakpako, Oyo state, where we take some of our drivers on a practical retraining to ensure they have the common knowledge of the modern (day) use of technologies in Automobile and this happens every six months and with an Award of a Certificate at the end of the training.
It is also important to know that, at the expiration of your certificate after six months you will not be able to drive again until you undergo training.
NATA News: How would you address the issue of fake members who operate as members of the association and in turn they bring bad names to the association?
Sikiru: Though its everywhere, but in our own case we have a data list of all our members active and non active and with this, we now know who is who in our midst. For example, when the Otedola (bridge) incident happened, the commissioner of police wrote to NARTO to produce the perpetrator and when we check our data list, we found out that the truck and its owners are not our members. Because as a member, we will collect all data of your truck from entry to the exit points and that is how we have been doing it to maintain sanity.
NATA News: Where do you think the Federal/State Government should assist the association?
Sikiru: In the areas of Financing, Procurement of Vehicles and Spare parts.
We have also suggested and written to the appropriate quarters to provide us with a transport bank where transporters will be given loans with low interest.
NATA News: Sometime last few years the Nigeria Shippers Council came up with Truck Transit Parks (TTP) and which NARTO was part of that agreement, so why is this not achievable?
Sikiru: You are right, but the structures has been raised to a completion but yet to function because of the nonexistent of shoreline and that was why the Federal Government put it to pending, but once that shoreline is constructed the place will start functioning. The issue here is that the way and manner our government handles things will keep one wondering and ageing. Though, they told us that the project is been captured in the 2019 budget but then, we are still watching them.
NATA News: Do you think that the full implementation of Transport Commission will benefit transport owners?
Sikiru: Yes for sure, because all our challenges will be directly channeled to the government.
NATA News: What are your programs for the rest of the year?
NATA News: Our in-house training and meetings continue the way it is and AGM will soon come up later in the year. We are also looking at organizing a medical check-up for drivers as it regards to drivers visuality and mentality.
NATA News: What is your message to Nigerians and Transport Owners?
They should persevere because the challenges we are facing now is unquantifiable. But all said and done, we have to be hopeful, we have to be resilient and put our trust in God for a better Nigeria.