AP Moller Fuels Apapa Gridlock- Truckers
Following the pandemonium which rocked Apapa last week Thursday, with truck drivers setting ablazer two banks after a police officer killed a truck driver Tunde Azeez, on Creek road; Lagos State government and the Nigerian Ports Authority have promised to develop Truck Transit Parks (TTPs) to ease the burden of truckers in Apapa.
Dozens of articulated truck drivers went on rampage over the death of one of their colleagues and set two bank (Diamond and Sterling) branches on fire.
The aggrieved truck drivers had targeted Diamond bank over the death of their colleague, who was allegedly shot by a mobile policeman attached to Diamond bank in the area and also took their rampage to Sterling bank when they learnt the police man took over in the bank.
The unavailability of TTPs was highlighted as the major cause of the problems affecting truck drivers in the region. This was the outcome of a two-day meeting convened to address the menace of truck drivers at the Lagos State Government House.
Speaking to MMS Plus shortly after the meeting, the Chairman of the Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO) revealed that, “there is a synergy between Lagos State and the management of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA). They are working towards developing a TTP as well as putting in place procedures to ensure that trucks only come to the ports when they are called.”
According to the AMATO boss, more than 80% of the problems associated with trucks would have been resolved by the time NPA and Lagos state achieve the creation of TTPs.
“It would reduce the convergence of trucks on the port access roads and also reduce the traffic gridlock on the roads.” He said.
Meanwhile, Chief Remi confirmed that another truck driver was found dead in his truck on Saturday last week.
“This is the fourth death we are recording in recent times. Another driver died in his vehicle last week. These incidents are uncalled for. What should warrant a Police officer to release a gun-shot at a harmless driver?” he wondered.
However, Chief Remi frowned at the transfer of aggression which led some of the truck drivers to extort monies and mobile phones from passersby and attack some neighbouring companies unjustly.
“What happened was transfer of aggression as some drivers broke facilities of other companies not involved in the fracas! Why should a police officer just open fire on their colleague? I believe that is enough reason to react the way they did but I would not support a situation where a wrong action is taken to correct a wrong. We should always do the right thing to correct the wrong.
Therefore, I am not impressed that banks were burnt and some other offices damaged as a result of the transfer of aggression.” He stated.
Meanwhile, another truck driver who simply identified himself as Shola observed that AP Moller terminal as well as overzealous Police officer was responsible for the plight of truck drivers on the Apapa port gate corridor.
According to Shola, not more ten vehicles are allowed entry into the Apapa port daily. He lamented that on some bad days only three or four vehicles successfully gain entry into the port. However, he disclosed that between 3pm on Wednesday (when the incident occurred) and 11am on Thursday, AP Moller had attended to over 100 vehicles.
“After that incident, from 3pm yesterday (Wednesday) to this morning (Thursday), AP Moller has allowed more than 100 vehicles to enter the port. On a normal day they hardly allow up to 10 trucks.
Sometimes, for a whole day only 3 or 4 trucks enter the port” Last week, one of my colleague died in his vehicle while waiting for his time to enter the port. We both work for the same company and his vehicle is still on this queue. I have been here for one week and four days, without food or water. The annoying thing is that the police and army attached to this place rob us at night with their uniforms and they collect monies from us by force during the day. To cross the Liverpool junction most of us pay not less than N5,000 as bribe.”
“The Commissioner of Police was here after the incident and he ordered all the policemen on this road to leave. You can see that truck drivers are controlling the traffic by themselves and it is more orderly because the police can collect money from one driver and allow him ply the wrong route to get quick access to the port.” He said.
On his part, the Head of Administration at Belanova Industries Limited, Mr. John Attah, told our correspondent that his company adjacent to the burnt Diamond bank, was also attacked.
“I’m yet to recover from the shock of the incident. The aggrieved truck drivers entered our premises and broke down the doors with stones. We had to plead with them to prevent them from getting access to the valuables. At the time they seemed to be rushing down to Sterling bank to hunt down the police officer.”
“I heard most of developments on the newspaper because I could barely watch. After the Managing Director told us to safe our lives first, most of the staff (including me) exited the building through the back fence” he added.