The South-East Amalgamated Markets Traders Association, SEAMATA, has sent a Save Our Souls, SOS, massage to the National Assembly over the imminent collapse of their businesses due to the activity of a shipping company.
The association stated this in a letter sent to the leadership of the Senate and that of the House of Representatives.
A copy of the letter, which was made available to journalists in Enugu on Sunday, July 5, 2020,was jointly signed by SEAMATA’s president-general of Gozie Akudolu, and it’s secretary-general, Alex Okwudiri.
It said that a number of traders in the country, who are SEAMATA members, are currently suffering excruciating pains and anguish from PIL, a shipping agency, with operational base in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
The letter reads in part: “Our members entrusted their cargoes and containers from China to PIL for delivery to ports in Nigeria, some in December 2019, while others in January, 2020.
“These cargoes were supposed to be delivered at their ports of destinations on or before 15 Feb., 2020. Up till date, over six months after shipment, some of the cargoes were yet to arrive Nigerian ports. All our inquiries and appeals to PIL, were greeted with empty and failed promises of new arrival dates.
“Four vessels, namely KOTA SALAM, KOTA SATRIA, KOTA SURIA, and KOTA SINGA, all have our members’ cargoes aboard. Out of these four vessels, only KOTA SINGA and KOTA SATRIA, arrived some weeks ago, after six and seven months respectively.
“Most of our members’ cargoes aboard these vessels were funded with loans and overdrafts from banks with interests on them growing in geometrical progression. Some of the banks have placed the homes of some of these our members, which they used as collateral for the bank facilities, for sale.
“The consequences of these developments are taking their tolls on the health of our members as they are now battling with severe depression, hypertension, and other related sicknesses. In fact, the businesses of our members are dying gradually just like their owners are gradually dying also courtesy of PIL.”
It said that the traders opted to come to the NASS to prevail on PIL to deliver the remaining consignments of our members without further delay.
According to the statement, if the Senate or the House of Representatives did not prevail on them, they will not deliver the cargoes.
“It is also our prayer, for NASS to ban PIL, their affiliate companies, and their inheritors, as the case may be, from operating in Nigeria to save our citizens from falling into the excruciating experience of our members.
“It is our final prayer that NASS prevails on PIL, to compensate our members to the full settlement of the interests that accrued on the loans with which the imports were funded. As we strongly hope on your speedy response and actions to save the lives of our members and their businesses,” it added.
It, however, commended NASS “for its good works which had helped in no small measures in steering the ship of state for the achievement of peace and stability in the country.”
SEAMATA is the umbrella union of traders in all the markets in the South-East geo-political zone and traders of South-East extraction doing business across the states of the federation.