ANOZIE EGOLE, in this piece, looks at the fireworks that trail the withdrawal of MWUN from COMTUA
Few days after the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria announced the withdrawal of its membership from the Council of Maritime Truck Unions and Associations came a torrent of mixed reactions from stakeholders.
MWUN, while announcing the withdrawal of its membership from COMTUA, said it was constrained to take the decision due to breach in the agreement reached by unions and associations, stipulating collaboration to stem the gridlock on port access roads and to speak in unison on matters relating to the development of the maritime sector.
Speaking to Financial Street in Lagos, the stakeholders lauded the decision of the MWUN President-General, Adewale Adeyanju, to pull out of the collaboration.
However, some of the stakeholders noted that the union’s action would further compound the traffic situation along the port corridors.
Still, some lamented that the union’s withdrawal might lead to friction between truckers and labour, based on the sharing formula in existence since the amalgamation.
According to them, there are indications of high extortion by some of the government agencies from transporters and delay of trucks’ entry and exit from Lagos ports.
A frontline trucker and the Managing Director of GG Enterprise, Alhaji Inuwa Abdullahi, stated that the intention of the amalgamation of truckers and unions was to ameliorate the suffering of stakeholders in the maritime industry. He commended the leadership of MWUN for withdrawing from COMTUA, saying that the collaboration was aimed at speaking with one voice and addressing traffic hiccups along the corridor, but that vested interests scuttled the collaboration.
According to him, the mutual understanding when the various groups first came together to form COMTUA and the Presidential Task Team on Apapa gridlock yielded positive result before greed set in.
Abdullahi, who is also a member of the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners, added that the marriage was formed with good intentions.
His words, “MWUN members might have seen something that would likely sabotage the union’s image before deciding to pull out.”
He recalled that MWUN singlehandedly emplaced the necessary logistics to ensure that the marriage worked, but that some bad elements were bent on scuttling the arrangement.
“Everybody knows that the PG of MWUN is a peaceful person. MWUN spent a lot for the collaboration to work, but people from other backgrounds are just interested in their own purpose,” he said.
Another transporter, Godwin Ikeji, frowned on MWUN’s initial involvement in trucking affairs, saying it was a mistake on the union’s part to enter into such agreement with maritime transporters.
Ikeji maintained that MWUN’s jurisdiction was limited to quay side and not the access roads or port corridors, adding that the amalgamation started on a faulty foundation.
According to him, dockworkers are known to be at the terminals and not along the port corridors.
On the withdrawal of the union’s membership, Adeyanju said the attitude and character of some of the players in the COMTUA’s amalgamation with government agencies were unfriendly, necessitating the pull-out.
He lamented lack of understanding on the part of some players where officials of the government and management of the union deemed it okay for the union to withdraw from the marriage.
He said the union was always open to discussion, consultation and dialogue with government agencies on issues bothering on traffic, but that some members of COMTUA were not in tune with such approach.
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