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19.02.2005 General News

77 Haulage drivers stranded in Niger

By GNA

- Government urged to intervene

Tema, Feb. 19, GNA - The General Hauliers and Transporters Association of Ghana (GHTAG) on Saturday appealed to the Government to intervene for the immediate release of 77 Ghanaian haulage drivers stranded and being maltreated in Niger.

The drivers loaded goods from the Tema Harbour meant for the landlocked country of Niger.

Mr Adamu Yussif Danjumah, chairman of the GHTAG told the Ghana News Agency that information reaching him from the dejected drivers indicated that they were also being subjected to inhuman treatment by the Nigerien security agencies, who have impounded some of their vehicles. For that reason 38 out of the 77 have abandoned their goods and escaped through unapproved routes to Niamey from Dosso, which happened to be the final destination of the goods, while 16, whose vehicles developed problem were in uncomfortable situation and some drivers' mates have also been arrested and placed in custody.

"The whereabouts of the remaining 23 drivers is not yet known", Mr Danjumah stressed.

He said weeks ago the drivers loaded the goods from the port of Tema to be discharged at Dosso in Niger but when they reached the capital Niamey some officials whom they could not identify asked them to return to Malandi Kantcheri near the Burkina Faso border.

The chairman said after spending three weeks at the border the owner of the goods one Mr Maidagi permitted them to convey the goods to Dosso.

While at Dosso, he said the Nigerien Minister of Interior, some soldiers and police personnel went and inspected the trucks and goods. But later in the night that same day, some soldiers went and asked them to continue their journey to Libya.

Mr Danjumah said the drivers objected to the suggestion because they did not negotiate with the owner of the goods but "sixteen of the drivers who could not bear the beatings were escorted by the soldiers and left with the goods and trucks".

"The 38 who managed to escape through unapproved routes to Niamey, called me on phone and give me all these information".

The chairman called on the Ministers of Ports Harbours and Railways and Foreign Affairs to move fast to rescue the citizens from their ordeal.

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