*Accuse security agents of extortion
Lagos — Importers, clearing and truck owners have expressed concern over the worsening gridlock along the port access road at the Tin-Can Island Port Complex, TICPC, in Lagos accusing officials of the security department of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, Port Police and the Presidential Task Team on Apapa gridlock led by Mr. Kayode Opeifa, deployed to manage the Apapa traffic.
Besides extortion, stakeholders also said that poor condition of the port access road has remained a major cause of unending gridlock along the Apapa-Oshodi expressway.
Recent report have exposed a well organized racket of security officials at the Tin-Can Island Port Complex who extort between N70,000 and N200,000 per truck before such truck can are granted access into ports.
The development, it was gathered has negatively affected port operation as cargo delivery has been considerably slowed down just as it also led to a sudden rise in haulage and shipping cost thereby causing inflation in the country.
A truck owner and executive member of the Association of Maritime Truck Owners, AMATO, Mr. Sanni Bala said that the security agents including the Presidential Task Team, demand huge amount of money ranging N70,000 to N200,000 depending on the bargaining power of the truck drivers in order to be allowed into the ports.
He said; ‘The issue of unlawful extortion by NPA security officials, Police and the Presidential Task Team along the Tin-Can road axis has become a daily occurrence and an institutionalized phenomenon that is taking a serious toll on the income of truck owners and exacerbating the plight of motorists on that axis.
‘The issue of traffic on the access road is artificial and caused by human factor because without the traffic, there is no how they can extort people , so they have create the traffic by delaying truckers.
‘They collect between N70,000 and N200, 000 and as a result many truckers have are left with nothing to take home and maintain their trucks and yet the Lagos State Government is complaining of rickety trucks on the roads whereas it is the outcome of the extortion by Police and others and yet they have refused to vacate the roads.’
Similarly, the National Vice President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, ANLCA, Mr. Kayode Farinto called for the disbandment of the Presidential Task Team which he described as a ‘money making machine.’
According to him, clearing agents lose an average of N300million weekly to illegal collection by NPA security officials, Police and members of the Presidential Task Team.
Kayode also lamented the lack of a call up system being saying that the manual call system being used by NPA is fueling corruption.
‘It is high time the NPA began the Electronic call up system , the manual system is full of anomalies and its encouraging corruption.’ He stated.
In his reaction, Vice Chairman of the Presidential Task Team, Mr. Kayode Opeifa challenged the reporter to go and investigate the claims of people accusing security agents are extorting truck drivers.
He said: ‘These people talking are criminals, they know the problem, they are the cause of the traffic situation in Apapa.
Speaking on behalf of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Mr. Nasiru Ibrahim, Assistant General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communication department, said that these are mere allegations as nobody has been caught. Ibrahim also said that management is aware and looking for a scapegoat.
‘These are mere allegations because nobody has been caught and if anyone is caught there are sanctions but we are still snooping around to authenticate this allegation.’