TRUCKERS have decried about 50 per cent drop in cargoes coming into the country, sparking fears of a looming unemployment in the sector.
In separate chats with our correspondent in Lagos, the group also lamented a 60 per cent reduction in haulage fares which, according to them, might also lead to insecurity in the area as most of the affected truckers would always look for means of survival.
The former chairman, dry cargo section of the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners, Abdullahi Inuwa, said the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic were still affecting the sector till date.
He also blamed lack of empty containers in Europe for shipment of cargos and high exchange rate as reasons for the drop in cargoes.
“Activities in the port are low, and there is drop in importation. The global challenge of COVID-19 has affected everything globally. You can even understand now that even in Europe, there is scarcity of empty containers to carry cargoes.
“Apart from that, you know that high cost of exchange rate has also affected importation. Also, some government policies, talking about the Nigeria Customs Service, also affect importation.”
Inuwa said that apart from the federal government, the next biggest employer of labor is the transport sector, adding that a lot of people would be out of job due to drop in cargoes.
“On the transport sector, transportation is a very big chain of movement because next to the federal government in terms of employment is the transportation sector. When you say there is drop in importation and there is no cargo, at least the importation has dropped by more than 50 per cent for cargoes. So, as you know, it has thrown a whole lot of people out of job because it is when there are cargoes that there will be jobs. And you know there are so many people whose lives depend on a particular truck such as the driver, motor boy, electrician, amongst others. When there is low activity, it will affect everyone generally.”
Explaining further, he said that a truck fed more than 20 people in the value chain.
“I cannot quantify how much we are losing, but what I know is that a single truck feeds about 20 people, aside the owner. So, when there are no cargoes, you can imagine the number of persons that will not be able to feed. Now, when they tell you that there is over 50 per cent drop in cargo, you know that it will affect a whole lot of people.”
“One thing you are supposed to understand is that Lagos State is a centre where all the activities happen. I do not have the statistics of how many trucks that are out of work now, but from our own assumption, it is difficult for agents to get trucks to carry their cargoes. Now, more than 50 trucks rush for just one terminal delivery order brought by an agent. This has crashed the fares of trucks from N350, 000 to N400, 000 it used to be before now to N180, 000 that it is now,” he concluded.
Corroborating what he said, the National President of the Association of Maritime Road Transport Owners, Remy Ogungbemi, blamed cargo diversion as the reason for the drop in cargoes coming into Nigeria.
“The drop in cargo is 100 per cent true and it has to do with the economy. Some goods are also being diverted, and there is also a drop in the exchange rate. On the percentage drop, I will say about 50-60 per cent drop.”
“The drop is affecting everybody and despite that, the costs of maintaining the truck are also increasing. We ought to have even increased the rate, but you know that in any market it is the demand that determines the price. So, the demand for trucks now is very low, which is why it is difficult for us to review the fares. However, we will not continue to be working at a loss. Negotiation is ongoing so that we will have a charge that makes us owners to break even,” he further said.
Also, the president of the Council for Maritime Truck Unions and Association, Adeyinka Arowoyewun, who confirmed there was a 50 per cent drop in cargo, blamed the high exchange rate as the reason for the crash.
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