By our Correspondent
The Committee of Freight Forwarders and Maritime Truck Owners(COFFAMAT) has explained the reason why it has yet to move against the Presidential Task Team on Apapa traffic gridlock.
Alhaji Tanko Ibrahim, the National Coordinator of 100 per cent Compliance team of NAGAFF told our correspondent yesterday that the committee was tipped off on the plan by hooodlums to hijack the protest when they will resort to massive looting, vandalism and violence.
According to Tanko, who is also the NAGAFF representative in the committee, the members of the committee therefore decided to adopt a more pragmatic approach to the issue in order not to allow miscreants infiltrate their ranks and hijack the noble cause.
It could be recalled that COFFAMAT, which is an almagamation of the five accredited Freight Forwarders groups in the industry and truck owners, recently issued a 48- hour ultimatum to Comrade Kayode Opeifa’s led Presidential Task Team on Apapa traffic gridlock to vacate the road or risk the wrath of freight forwarders and truck owners.
The committee has accused the presidential team of wanton and unbridled corruption and mindless extortion of its members.
However, Tanko, in an exclusive interview with our correspondent yesterday, debunked the claims made by Increase Uche, who incidentally is the National President of National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders ((NAGAFF), had told an online medium(not NigeriaMaritime 360) that the planned strike action by COFFAMAT was aborted by NAGAFF.
The NAGAFF President had described members of COFFAMAT as “rabble rousers” whose planned activities to disrupt the relative peace at the ports were aborted by the timely intervention of NAGAFF.
Expressing disappointment at the outburst of Uche, Tanko said he found it difficult that his President could discredit a common cause in which NAGAFF is a party.
“I still find it difficult that my President could discredit the cause of COFFAMAT which NAGAFF is a member.
“As the Vice-President of NAGAFF and National Coordinator of anti-corruption body of the association, I represent the interests of NAGAFF on the committee and all our activities in the group are made known to the NAGAFF high command.
“It is therefore disheartening and discomforting to hear my President describe members of the COFFAMAT in such a derogatory words.
He said other members of the committee took an exception to the derogatory remarks of Increase Uche but expressed determination not to be deterred in their efforts to push through their demands which include that the shipping companies get holding bays and vacation of presidential task team from the port access road.
“Of course, I will still reach out to him to confirm if he actually said all those things, which as i am talking to you now, I still don’t believe”, Tanko said in a pained voice.
He however reiterated the stand of COFFAMAT against the continued stay of the Presidential Task Team on port access roads.
“We are adopting a more diplomatic and pragmatic approach to tacking the problem.
“We have told them to leave the road as the traffic gridlock, which they have been tackling over a year, is yet to abate
They only use it as an avenue to extort us .
“COFFAMAT is an amalgamation of freight Forwarders and truck owners.
“So as the cargo owners and truck owners, we are telling the Presidential Task Team to leave the port access road.
“We shall man the road with the collaboration of LATSMA”
Tanko further disclosed that the committee has written to the office of Lagos State Governor, Nigerian Ports Authority, Nigerian Shippers Council, the Chairman of Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarders in Nigeria (CRFFN), the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, The office of IG of Police and the Office of the Vice- President who is the Chairman of the Task Team to engage them on its demands.
“We have not backed down on our demands. We only changed strategy.
“So it is not true for anyone to say he aborted our planned action against the Presidential Task Team.
“All the stakeholders we wrote to have all responded to our letters.
“The representatives of the committee had a meeting with the NPA today (yesterday) while that of the Lagos State Government is slated for today, Wednesday.
“The office of the Vice – President has called us that the meeting will be held in a fortnight”
“You can see we are not backing down until we chase away the exploitative members of the Presidential Task Team on Apapa Traffic Gridlock.” Tanko claimed
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