Following the Nigerian government’s restriction on movement, in Lagos and Ogun States, as well as the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, as announced on Sunday, March 29, 2020, 3,000 of Kobo360’s trucks were parked and out of the crucial supply-chain.
Truck drivers, due to the lack of clarity in this announcement have, wrongly, assumed that the trucks and cargo they are carrying, will be impounded by law enforcement personnel, during this lockdown.
It is vital that the drivers know they are still within the law, to transport the essential goods they are carrying and the integral role they play, in fighting the effects of COVID-19.
Kobo360 has been intentional on keeping Africa moving, during COVID-19 as an interruption to the flow of the movement of essential goods in Nigeria, will undoubtedly lead, to another crisis – food shortage.
Kobo360 is calling on the Nigerian government, for clarification on drivers with cargo, to move freely in the country and ensure continuity of trade, so that goods can move, without interference, during these challenging times.
It is, also, calling to attention, the need for calm and measured responses.
In view of this development, we caught up with Tayo Oyegunle, Kobo360’s Vice President for Global Operations, to discuss the pain points that producers, manufacturers and merchants are facing, during this crisis, as well as, how Kobo360 is engaging with the relevant government bodies, in Nigeria in order to keep Africa safe and on the move.
“Our truck drivers are afraid to move, due to roadblocks and interstate restrictions. There has not been just, any clear directive from the government, but we have absolute confidence because, we have covers”, Tayo stated, speaking on the impact of the lockdown, on the truck drivers.
“Today, we have 3,000 drivers that have parked because of uncertainty, from the government and the state of play, around these things and that is impacting our ability to deliver, through the platform”, he further explained.
“What we have done is that, we have begun to, actively, engage with the government and we have made it clear, on the essential role we play, in the economy today”, he emphasised.
“What we have asked is that the government issue a letter of intent, to cover all drivers, on our platform and people moving essential goods, so that, everyone feels safe”, Tayo explained
According to Tayo, personal verification are, also, issued to the truck drivers, to ensure that, while they move essential goods for some of the players in the FMCG, they can get absolute cover, to prevent them from the nuances they face on the road and boost their confidence that they are safe, while driving.
Kobo360’s Role in the Engagement
As stated earlier in the previous paragraphs, by the Vice President, about 3,000 drivers on the platform have parked their trucks, for fear of harassment from government agencies.
Truck drivers are needed on the roads, to deliver vital food products, raw materials and other essential goods needed, during the crisis.
This move has, already led to thousands of tons of food items, such as tomatoes, yams and other fruits and vegetables, being grounded in cities, such as Jos and Kaduna, rotting away and with no income for the producers.
If this persists, produce, medical and key items, will run out, across supermarkets and major markets, in the next 1 – 2 weeks.
“We are in an economy, where drivers are essential to the delivery of food materials and essentials.
For instance, in moving food from Jos and other Northern parts of the country to the South and this persists, nothing seems to have been done about it, we will begin to experience shortages in the market”, Tayo emphasized.
“We requested a public statement of intent and support for truck drivers to publicly inform them they are safe to move around without fear of being stopped, arrested or having their cargo being impounded, during the lockdown”, Tayo noted.
Kobo360 has deployed technology and has provided unique security identification numbers to its drivers, associated to each trip, confirming they carry goods on behalf of Kobo360’s clients, who are members of the Manufacturers’ Association of Nigeria, (MAN), in the FMCG business.
“We are also making sure drivers observe, communicate and enforce personal hygiene, social distancing directives from WHO and all Nigeria health regulatory agencies”, added Tayo.
The Vice-President of Kobo360, also, rolled out some key figures, on the impact of the restrictions:
- Around 70% of vessels have delayed their arrival time, by as much as 40 days
- The volume of goods moved across the continent has reduced, by 30%
- We have seen the biggest drop in non-essentials, e.g., construction goods, by at least 50%
- There is continued demand for food because people are at home and need to eat. 20 – 30% increase in FMCG.
- Numbers are changing, rapidly.
Kobo360’s role in ensuring food distribution
In ensuring food distribution, Tayo explained that, the company has enabled technology, to ensure the truck drivers continue operation without, necessarily, interacting with the cargo owners or directly bidding for jobs.
Financially, it covers funding for trips, subsidized fuel, tyres and spare parts, for maintenance.
“The technology is called Global Logistics Operating System, (G-LOS), which provides remote access to the supply chain, allowing for business continuity, during the pandemic, by facilitating a steady stream of trips. We also talk with the government, to allow interstate movement”, Tayo stressed.
On Remote working
Tayo stated that, what Kobo360 is doing, to make sure that its employees and drivers are safe, in addition to following government regulations, is to ensure that, its people, who do not have to be on the field, work from home and they are provided with essential tools, to hold meetings and communicate.
“We have employees across 7 African countries, so, it is essential we deploy this technology, to ensure continuity of business, without suffering from the shutdown”, he assured.
According to Tayo, the company’s drivers and field officers, on the road are supplied with hand sanitizers and are, regularly, getting updated with information.
“Technology will ensure we continue in business and that consumers receive essential supply, amidst this lockdown”, Tayo explained.
Kobo360 operates in Nigeria, Kenya, Togo, Ghana, Uganda, Ivory Coast and Egypt and has built a network of over 50,000 trucks and drivers, on its platform, making it one of the most innovative and fastest growing logistics companies, operating on the continent.
Featured Image: Tayo Oyegunle, Kobo360’s Vice President for Global Operations
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