Truckers under the aegis of Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO) has threatened service withdrawal over incessant confiscation of vehicles by operatives of the Nigeria Customs Service.
The truckers lamented that the seizure and possible auction of their trucks by the Customs Service has led to an untold hardships for haulage operators in the maritime industry, describing the seizures as unjust.
According to a statement signed by Chief Remi Ogungbemi, President and Alhaji Sanni Muhammed Bala, General Secretary respectively, the association queried management of the customs over failure to arrest ships that import illicit goods to Nigeria for complicity noting that ” Does Customs seal the terminals that receive contraband and dangerous consignment in their yards for complicity in storing illicit consignments?
The truck owners stated the Nigerian Customs at different fora made haulage operators to understand that the law stipulates they should arrest the means of conveyance and if that be the reason, why not arrest ships that imports containers with contraband goods to Nigeria probing that are vessels no longer means of conveyancer .
AMATO described such laws obsolete as it has become injurious to truckers means of livelihood.
The AMATO executives further maintained that truckers can no longer withstand the unfortunate circumstances of being used as scapegoat for offenses perpetuated by unscrupulous importers.
“The seizure and possible auction of our trucks by the Nigerian Customs Service is causing an untold hardships on we truckers and for a very long time, we have been passing through this injustice in the hands of Nigerian Customs Service, as a direct result of dishonest declaration of actual goods that Importers and their collaborating Agents are having in their containers.
“Truckers are just mere commercial transporters of goods. We are only invited by agents to come and carry goods to and from the ports after Customs might have examine and approve the release of goods in containers to Importers and Agents.
“But unfortunately, after loading the containers on are duly examined and released by Customs on our trucks, they would waylay the trucks on the road, seize and detain our trucks in their yards together with containers with question marks.
AMATO further seek to know if commercial truckers are involved in physical examination of goods in the ports together with Customs, Police, DSS, NDLEA, etc to see what they are going to carry, pointing out that” Does it sound just for Customs officers and other government agencies that jointly examined and approved the exit of contraband and other dangerous goods in the ports to be holding the trucker responsible for their fault and negligence?
Primarily, the truckers lamented” Is it the commercial trucker that is short paying government import duty on goods or the Importers and their Agents?If answer to the above questions is NO, we are calling on Nigerian Customs Service to release all our trucks detained in their yards or withdraw our service nationwide in protest against the unjust seizure of our trucks.
” Our members are facing agonizing economic hardships. Their means of livelihood are being seized by the Nigerian Customs for the offense committed by Importers and their dubious collaborating Agents. Nigerian Customs should please release our trucks and stop using the truckers as scapegoat.
“Recently, some containers were found to contain Tramadol and some contain arms ammunition .If the trucker knows that he is to carry container loaded with explosive that can destroy him and the truck or the contraband drug that would equally puts him in trouble, he will not carry it.
“Thus, where is the justification of justice for seizing our truck?
“We appreciate the previous Management of Customs authority, in that they reasoned with complaints and issued out Circular that enables us to retrieve our seized trucks through application. But the present Management of Customs wrote against the Circular. All our efforts entreaties to the present management of the Customs to revalidate the circular to enable us secure the release of our trucks have proved abortive.
“Hence our plan to settle out grievance swith the customs authority through the eloquence of WITHDRAWAL SERVICE if our trucks are not released by the Customs.
“Enough is enough of Truckers dying in silence and paying for the negligence of government agencies at the ports and offense of Importers and their dubious collaborating agents.