By Ifeyinwa Obi
â€¦ says we pay up to N40,000 as settlementâ€™
Truck operators in the Â Â Â maritime sector, have again cried out to the federal government to check the excesses of the Lagos Ports Access Roads Monitoring Unit (LAPARMU), alleging their extortionary tendencies would wind the economy if allowed to continue.
The truck operators under the aegis of Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO) accused officials of the Lagos Ports Access Roads Monitoring Unit (LAPARMU) of making life difficult and unbearable for them.
The chairman of the association chief RemiÂ Ogungbemi who spoke to Vanguard on the issue, alleged that trucks belonging to his members are beingÂ impounded by the LAPARMU officials forÂ flimsy excuse and are subsequently made to cough out between N30,000 and N40,000 without issuing receipts.
According to Ogungbemi, â€œthey have become economic saboteurs, and by extension economy of the countryÂ Â because they neither add value toÂ our welfare or remit such monies to the federal government. We are operating under hostile conditions, making it difficult for usÂ to break even in the businessâ€.
He stated that LASTMA, officials alsoÂ stop trucks indiscriminately on Lagos roads for no offence, demanding for â€œindiscriminate chargesâ€ collected by persons who claim to be local government officials.
Ogungbemi revealed that as a way out, the companies involved in haulage business within Lagos have had cause to pay what he described as a â€œcertain protection feeâ€, so that their trucks will not be stopped at every point.
Vanguard earlier had reported that indications are high that operatives of LAPARMU have not divested themselves of the shameful toga of corruption that they wear with obvious pride.
VanguardÂ findings alsoÂ revealed that following assurances by then Transportation Minister, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, that a new team of LAPARMU operatives would be put in place, as the cropÂ of this group of traffic warders has continue toÂ brazenlyÂ display a high level ofÂ corruptionÂ before members of the public.
The ministerâ€™s assurances came in response to allegations of corruption raised by tank farm owners against the LAPARMU operatives.
LAPARMU, was formed in 2007 following the recommendations of a Federal Government panel that investigated causes of the perennial gridlock along the access roads of the Lagos ports in Apapa.
A multi-agency organ, LAPARMU comprises personnel of the Nigerian Navy (NN), the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) and Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Security Department.
LAPARMU, according to the sponsors, is to assist in reducing traffic bottlenecks in Apapa, particularly along the Lagos ports access roads.