…Claim Death of Nine Members on Queue Since This Year
By Ambrose Okehi
Not withstanding the rigorous, nightmarish hurdles and other inhuman challenges encountered on daily basis while trying to navigate and access the notorious Apapa /Oshodi Expressway (the assumed gateway to the nation’s economy), coupled with financial difficulties associated with loss of man hours, wastage of business days and weeks and sometimes months on long queues of traffic, truck drivers and their motor boys are currently being hunted and visited by the mother death as they are dying in their numbers due to stress.
On Friday, August 31, 2018, tragedy struck again as the news of the sudden death of a truck driver,. Mr. Idowu Abiodun Olaegbe was brokered his member at the secretariat of the National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), Tin Can Island, Apapa, Lagos.
Idowu death is coming just few days after the sudden death of driver who died last week under the same stressful hurdle on Apapa Oshodi Expressway while still on the queue.
The death of Oleagbe was on that fateful Friday was said to had resulted from stress from long queue from the Apapa gridlock, a situation that have made many operators and port users to suffer untold hard and trauma on their way to office.
Though, report had that the late driver had a night before his death complained of illness, and was said to had taken some drugs to suppress it on that Thursday night before retiring to sleep, but could not make it to the next day.
It could be recalled that last week another truck driver was reported to had died while on the queue while he struggling his way through the Tin Can Port before the tragedy occurred which still on his way to access the Tin Can port last week.
While regretting and commenting on the issue particularly on the sudden death of his members, the vice chairman, Dry Cargo Section of the Lagos State branch of the NARTO, Alhaji Abdullahi Mohammed Inuwa who spoke to MARITIME NEWSROOM, an online media, pleaded o government to come to their aid and save them from untimely death resulting from the stress from the traffic queue from Apapa traffic which is bringing death to their members.
Already the body of the late Idowu, who is from Ogbomoso town, Oyo State had since been taken home and buried.
The deceased, according to information, a bonaifide and registered member of NARTO, Oyo State branch.
His truck was registered with Zamfara State with the registration No. XA 596 BUG.
According the NARTO vice chairman: ”The recent death is as a result of stress in this work. It unfortunate that we continue to lose drivers and motor boys for the reason.”
He further blamed the bad roads on the government, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), shipping companies, who refused to build holding bays for empty containers but also called on the authorities to do everything humanly possible to stop this mess”.
”Thank you very much for this question. You see, as a matter of fact, I have a record of about nine people (drivers and their motor boys) who have died on queues that same way.”
Reacting further, he added: ”Yes, they died on the queues. And many had died like that. What you asked whether there is inssurance coverage for our members as well welfare package for drivers and motor. You also asked me a question on about the proliferation of various associations with example like AMATO and many others which I said there is freedom of association. Because of those splinter groups coming up here and there and some of the groups who don’t have national spread or structure on ground but through one way or the other they come and brainwash others for one selfish reason or the other and that is affecting the dry cargo section.”
Speaking further on insurance coverage, and welfare package for his members, Alhaji Inuwa said there is a plan for the member by the national leadership is currently working with the government to ensure that these welfare package and insurance coverage, he said: ”You know, we have that plan for the dry cargo section. We have insurance scheme for our drivers on wet cargo too and others even the PTO of NUPENG
have drafted conditions of service! for all the drivers you are seeing.”
On whether such welfare package is extended to the motor boys as well, Alhaji Inuwa answered on affirmative and said they are part of this good arrangement.
”They have such conditions of service. Here we introduce in the dry cargo section. I think in 2012, we called it ”Dry Caddies” and we and I happened to be the coordinator of the Lagos State chapter but along the way, or because of one thing or the other, we suspended it and right now we are trying to reinstate it back onto the system. Because some of our members are already calling for that. We are trying to bring it back but are waiting on our national leadership to bring out what they have as per that. And when it reaches like that, you will know it is from the national level they have packaged it alongside with a consultant and an insurance firm. We are still expecting them but I know that they are on it,” Inuwa concluded.