The Association of Maritime Truck Owners has written to the Controller General of Customs, Col Hammed Ali (Rtd), threatening to withdraw services from the ports due to the continued seizure and detention of trucks belonging to its members by officers of the Nigeria Customs Service.
This was contained in an open letter dated July 22nd, titled, “Open letter to the Comptroller General of Customs on imminent withdrawal of service by maritime truckers over the continuous seizure and detention of containerized trucks by the Nigerian Customs Service” jointly signed by the president of AMARTO, Remy Ogungbemi, and the and General Secretary, Sanni Bala.
The association lamented that the seizure and auctioning of its trucks by the NCS for no fault of theirs, saying that it was causing untold hardship on its members.
The letter read in part, “We have been passing through this injustice in the hands of Nigeria 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 examined and approved the release of goods in containers to importers and agents. But unfortunately, after loading the containers on our trucks that are duly examined and released by Customs, they would waylay our trucks on the road, seize and detain our trucks in their yards together with containers with question marks.”
AMARTO described the seizure of members’ trucks as unjust, adding that their trucks could no longer be used as scapegoats for the offense committed by unscrupulous importers and dubious clearing agents.
The association queried why Customs did not arrest ships bringing illicit goods into Nigeria for complicity or seal the terminals receiving contraband and dangerous consignments in their yards for complicity.
According to him, “Are commercial truckers involved in physical examination of goods in the ports together with Customs, Police, Department of State Service, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, to see what they are going to carry?”