*Sends SOS to FG, LASG
19 December 2018, Sweetcrude, Lagos — ROAD haulage operators under the aegis of Containerized Truck Owners Association have cried out to both the Federal and Lagos State Governments to save them from extortion and brutalization by security operatives and ‘Area boys’.
In a heart Rendering Save our letter to both tiers of government, both Containerized Truck Owners Association of Nigeria, COTOAN and Association of Maritime Transport Owners, AMATO, both group were unequivocal in their lamentation on the trauma their members go through due to the persistent Apapa traffic gridlock.
They also decried the fact that their members are subjected to trucks queues, adding that parking roads/bridges seriously compromise the lives of their members as well as their vehicles.
In a communique signed by Chief Remi Ogungbemi and Alhaji Wasiu Oloruntoyin, representatives of the groups begged the Federal government to urgently look into their plight which has led to the death of many of their members.
Part of the communique reads “We are hereby begging the Federal and Lagos State governments to urgently look into our plight, which has resulted in the following:
“Untimely deaths of truck drivers while on the queues of parked haulage vehicles, the inability of the drivers on those parked trucks queues to bathe, eat, sleep and rest adequately.
“Exposure of the truck drivers on the queues are to regular harassment by street urchins, commonly known as area boys.
“Truckers on the queues are being subjected to wanton extortion by countless security agencies at alarming rates ranging between N80,000.00 – N120,000.00 on each truck, depending on the particular operator’s power of negotiation.
“The trucks on the queues are also routinely exposed to vandals who constantly damage the vehicles and steal various critical parts, which replacements further drain the lean purses of the operators; and
“The drivers on the queues are subjected to serial brutalization and dehumanization by sadistic security operatives.”
In the season of Christmas, the Containerized Truck Owners are filled with angst of further distress in their lots, going by past records of increased delivery of imports and congestion at Nigerian ports in anticipation of huge sales this season.
The truckers body noted that, apart from the seasonal spike in imports, Nigeria also contends with increased security challenges caused by marauding criminal elements as well as high incidents of extortionate tendencies by rampaging unscrupulous security operatives along the ports access roads.
In their words: “Ideally, the Christmas season spells good tidings and joy, but, in the current poor conditions our members are contending with on Lagos ports access roads, the Yuletide can only spell sorrow, tears and blood” for us, except the Federal and Lagos State governments, hearken to our cries and save our lives and means of livelihoods.”
The Containerized Truck Owners made a passionate appeal to members of the general public, especially those that reside around the corridors where trucks are either queued or parked, to kindly lend their voices to help the truckers in prevailing on the concerned authorities to do the needful by introducing an automated system to regulate movement of trucks in and out of the ports.