The culture of kolanut breaking (Iwa Oji) as a traditional oral practice in Igbo was recently rekindled by the executives and members of Haulage and Drivers Association of Transporters (HADAT), Trade Fair Complex, Lagos.
The cultural renaissance that took place at the second end of the year get-together of the union was held at the King’s Lounge, Restaurant and Bar, Trade Fair Complex Lagos recently. It witnessed leaders and representatives from the various market unions in the trade fair complex and the Lagos State government.
Highlights of the event were live band mounted by Joy of God Gospel Music, a.k.a Ochiabuto, traditional ogene music group and celebration of kolanut performed by chief Ezeemuo. The monarch raised the kolanut, offering prayers and banal.
“Yoruba plant it; Hausa eat it; while Igbo celebrate it,” Jonathan Ezenwa, the master of ceremony eulogised kolanut regarded as the nucleus of Igbo civilisation, after the reverence.
The occasion equally featured major tribes in Nigeria, individuals, monarchs and captains of industries who literarily came to answer their fathers’ name by picking kolanut at certain amounts with the attendant platitude.
In his address of welcome, the president of the association, Comrade Emeka Alum, noted that, since 3500 and 3100BC when Iraq invented the first wheel as means of transportation and Romans built the first highway across Europe, the world had been busy about introducing the best and cheapest means of transportation, but, today, they have come out with movement of goods from one end of the city to another called haulage transportation.
He said that a tourist to complex would observe the volume of business done at the market daily and its attendant conveniences, and, indeed, appreciate brains behind the exodus from the Island to the trade Fair complex, adding that the market remained one of the biggest in Africa.
He urged leaders of each section of the market in the complex to allocate a portion of land to HADAT for development of Motor Park since, in the master plan, development of motor parks were not included.
Alum stressed the importance of motor parks in the complex, noting that, if created, it would assist in reducing vehicular congestion on the road, which causes traffic gridlock especially during festivities. He added that the market has potential for growth as those who are apprentices would eventually become masters of their own businesses.
He said, “The garage will be of immense help to all and sundry. It is where our vehicles and business transactions can be done in decency; easily accessible to vehicle users, and, in turn, generate more revenue to the management of the trade fair complex. We are also using the occasion to call on the management of the complex to end the ugly incidence of social miscreants and those who peddle fake news to the Customs,” he added.
He frowned at a situation were Customs, after clearing goods at the port and giving it exit into the market, turnaround to label it contraband, seize it or delay it just to make more money from the transporters. “We need concerted efforts from all stakeholders to bring sanity to the trend,” Alum added.
He commended the executive governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo Olu, for his government’s efforts at fixing the Mile 2 –Badagry expressway. He pointed out that many businessmen on that corridor had lost millions of naira through containers falling and goods worth millions damaged due to the dilapidated roads.
He disclosed that HADAT has put in place strategic mechanism to revolutionise haulage business beginning from 2020 despite border closure. “We want to ensure that every member of our association cooperates with the Nigeria Police Force, Nigeria Customs Service, Lagos State Transport Management Agency, and the Nigerian Military on road blocks so as to reduce delays and improve on timely delivery of customers’ goods to their warehouses,” he stated.
Chief Patron of the association, Martin Aneke, told this reporter the odyssey of the association, “When the association was about to be formed, minds began to run wide: whether it will work or not; what are its challenges? I gave my financial support at the point of registering it with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).
“There was an initial opposition at inception such that the bill we were paying for gate pass was increased. We were not perturbed as it motivated us to continue to forge ahead,” he added.
Aneke, an indigene of Enugu State doing his business at the Auto Spare Parts and Machinery Dealers Association (ASPMDA) section of the market, told this reporter his feeling seeing what he started come to fruition.
He said, “Anything you do in life without a leader would not move forward. Today, I’m happy that the association has been firmly established. There is a sense of satisfaction among members who worked towards its birth, “We see everyone in the union as members from the same place and as brothers and sisters from eastern Nigeria who needs to develop their home country.
“Though majority of our members are Igbo in haulage business, we also have members from the North, South West, Niger Republic and Ghana who desire to come together through unionization so that whatever policy framework government has to implement on the sector will have our consideration as registered and organised group.
“Sometimes, we pay courtesy visits to the offices of agencies such as the Nigerian Police Force, Nigerian Customs Service and Lagos State Transport Management Agency (LASTMA) so as to foster unity and cooperation among the agencies,” he said.
Secretary of the planning committee, Chief Jonathan Ezenwa, who manages the communication needs of the union, described it as young. He prayed God to take it to limelight. He canvassed for a reorienting of members to imbibe culture of customer relation service and global best practices.
Ezenwa noted that haulage was a lucrative business for any investor to exploit. He advised that anyone investing in the business would have endless streams of income. “It is a business one can begin in the morning without a dime, and goes home with enough to feed his family,” he added.
An executive member of the association and helmsman at Chinazam Transport Global Limited, Ezenwa hinged the challenges of haulage business on recent border closure, noting that the federal government did not think it through before embarking on it. He added that Nigerians who were the end beneficiary of the policy were taken unaware, hence the lamentations that trailed it.