Following the lockdown directive issued by the federal and state governments, Kobo360, a Nigerian logistics company has revealed that the uncertainty surrounding FG restriction of movement has left about 3,000 of its trucks grounded and unable to move essential goods across the country.
According to the company, the lack of clarity on the exemption of trucks from the lockdown has made truck drivers assume that their cargo will be impounded by law enforcement.
Movement of Essential Goods and Services
When the FG implemented the COVID-19 lockdown over 3 weeks ago, it said that organisations and businesses involved in the provision of essential services like food distribution were exempted.
The free flow of food in the country is important especially during this crisis. An interruption to the movement of essential goods could lead to other crisis like food shortage.
Transportaion of essential goods is an integral role they play in fighting the effects of COVID-19.
However, Kobo360 has revealed that over 3,000 of its truck have been grounded and out of the crucial supply-chain meant to transport essential goods since March 29th.
Suggested read: Kobo360: Logistics Startup Wins Disrupter of the Year Award, Plans Ghana and Kenya Expansion
According to the company, the exemption for transporters moving essential goods was not clear enough. As such, law enforcement agents misinterpret the directive, and as a result, were harassing drivers.
Speaking with TechNext, the VP Global Operations at Kobo360, Tayo Oyegunle explained that the government failed to clearly communicate to law enforcement that distribution vehicles may not necessarily be branded to be identified as transporting essential goods.
The government announced the “cessation of movement” – within this remit it stated that businesses involved in food and distribution are exempt. However, that does not seem to be clearly communicated to law enforcement or the fact that distribution vehicles may not necessarily be branded for them to be identified as essential goods – resulting in the drivers being stopped and at times being harassed.Tayo Oyegunle, VP Global Operations at Kobo360
He added that the issue his company is facing is that between law enforcement and truck drivers, there is a “grey area”. Understanding the grey area is down to how an individual chooses to interpret the directive and law enforcement agents have interpreted it wrongly.
Huge Financial Loss
The Vice President further disclosed to TechNext that it has lost millions of dollars in sales and value-added services. He also noted that the restriction has increased their turn around time.
Nigeria has been on lockdown for 23 days.
Asked whether his company has tried to get in touch with relevant authorities to address the matter, Mr Oyegunle revealed that Kobo360 had reached out to the government as they were open to dialogue in the very early stages of the pandemic.
Since the restrictions, we have written to arms of the Nigerian government stating the urgency in clarifying the announcement made on March 29th and to support the logistics industry with documentation for our drivers to give them the freedom to move within the country. This crisis is a new territory for us all, but we’re willing to work with the government in order to ensure that we keep essential supplies movingTayo Oyegunle, VP Global Operations at Kobo360
Asked whether any of his trucks have indeed been impounded and if the company wasn’t crying foul when it really hasn’t been wronged, Mr Oyegunle revealed to TechNext that none of its trucks has been impounded.
He, however, explained that the challenges its drivers are facing with law enforcement on the frontline are why they have taken it upon themselves to stop transporting goods.
3,000 of our trucks are parked. There is certainly no crying foul here and that is not a stance Kobo360 is taking. Our drivers are on the frontline, they are the ones who are facing these obstacles with law enforcement and have taken it upon themselves to stop transporting goods based on their experiences, knowing that they will be losing income. This has been communicated to us by our drivers, we have to support them and we have to get them back on the road to complete the distribution of essential goods.Tayo Oyegunle, VP Global Operations at Kobo360
Tayo Oyegunle said his company is trying to remedy the situation by giving the drivers identity cards and other forms of identification while also reassuring them that they are legally permitted to transport goods.
However, that might not be enough if law enforcement agents don’t get the memo. As such, Kobo360 is calling on the government to clarify the exemption of cargo movement in the country as it is vital for drivers to know they are still within the law to transport essential goods
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