By Kenneth Jukpor
The ongoing road construction along the Tin Can Island port corridor has necessitated extortion of truckers at N45,000 averagely by a combined team of security operatives on the road.
With the construction restricting port access to just one lane, MMS Plus investigations revealed that most truckers were willing to pay the fees to security operatives in order to reduce the number of hours/ days spent on the road.
A chieftain of Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), Alhaji Inuwa Abdullahi confirmed this while speaking on MMSPlusTV last week.
The trucking veteran stressed that the lack of coordination for trucks heading to Tin Can Island Port created the avenue for extortion and sharp practices along the port access road.
His words: “We have two transit parks which are Lilypond Truck Transit Park and Tin Can Truck Transit Park. Trucks going to Apapa port must come to Lilypond and be called from there while Tin Can park serves Tin Can Island port. At Lilypond, the Apapa Port Manager, Presidential Taskforce, and truckers unions have collaborated to have modalities for truck operations.”
“There is transparency via a watsapp forum where major stakeholders and leaders of various groups are on the platform. The group is updated with details about activities of trucks admitted to the port daily as well as exits. This is for Apapa port, however, there is nothing like that for Tin Can Island port. If we can have such arrangement at Tin Can, the extortion would stop”
However, he posited that until the road construction is completed such level of success may not be attained at Tin Can ports.
Also speaking with MMS Plus, the Chairman, Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO) Chief Remi Ogungbemi stated that he has been receiving complaints on a daily basis about activities at the Tin Can port access corridor for over a month.
Ogungbemi, however, noted that the industry should focus on finding the solution to the problem of extortion.
“Truckers have started discussing with the authorities; especially Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) on how to regulate the admission of trucks into Tin Can port as well as the tankers heading to the tank farms in the area. We need a system that reduces human interference and informs the driver of the truck when it is the right time to access the port,” he said.
According to the AMATO boss, the platform for this regulation could be via emails, social media messages or text messages.
“This is the solution and the hard copy should be printed so the security operatives controlling the traffic know those that should be on the port corridor. Consultation on this process is still ongoing but we would continue to apportion blames until we deploy this strategy,” he said.