By Olasunkanmi Akoni & Monsuru Olowoopejo
Despite the visit by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to the Apapa axis at the weekend, truck drivers have accused policemen and naval personnel attached to control traffic in the area of allegedly collecting bribes from them.
The drivers have continued to park indiscriminately on Oshodi-Apapa Expressway.
Osinbajo and Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State had led other officials on an inspection tour of Apapa ports and environs, expressing the determination of the Federal Government to restore sanity and clear the chaotic traffic situation in the area.
Vice Chairman of the Task Team, Mr Kayode Opeifa had, last week, promised that there would be the restoration of law and order to Apapa environs by Wednesday this week.
Truck drivers accuse police, Navy of bribery
Meanwhile, truck operators along the Oshodi Apapa Expressway, particularly, from Rainbow to Berger Yard area, have accused policemen, deployed to maintain law and order, of demanding and collecting bribe from them before allowing them access to Tin-Can Island port.
One of the drivers, who spoke to Vanguard on the condition of anonymity, lamented, “The police are still collecting money from us before we access the ports. They demand between N30, 000 and N40, 000 before they clear the road for you to pass. For those who cannot pay, they are left to park on the road for days and any attempt by recalcitrant drivers are met with stiff punishment as they will be beaten by the police.
“That is why you see that they have converted the main carriage-way from Fatgbems filling station towards Trinity into parks for trucks, thereby, leaving only a lane on the service lane for other motorists.”
More work needs to be done — Osinbajo
Meanwhile, Osinbajo, accompanied on the inspection by Managing Director, Nigeria Ports Authority, NPA, Ms Hadiza Bala Usman, and other team members, security operatives, heads of traffic management agencies, media, among others, took a tour of Apapa port and Tincan Island port roads and interacted with stakeholders on the latest efforts and the way forward.
He said: “With what I have seen so far, I am quite pleased with the pace of work done. But there are some aspects that still require speed to achieve the best within the axis.
“I think the most important thing is what we are trying to do right now. We will improve the infrastructures on the port areas and the call-up system so that there is no pressure within the ports.
Mile 2, a difficult spot
Responding to the challenges being experienced by motorists at the Mile 2 end of the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, the Vice President assured that the gridlock would ease off in the next few days.
“The Mile 2 end is the axis where we think there are still difficulties. But we think that in the next couple of days, it will be resolved especially with the opening of the Tin Can Island trailer parks and the palliative work that is ongoing, all the way to mile 2 which Hi-tech construction is handling. And we should be able to resolve that congestion in the Mile 2 end.”
Navy probes alleged corruption
Three months after N100 million was allegedly found in the account of a junior Naval officer stationed along Lagos port access roads to control traffic, the Nigerian Navy has begun investigations into the allegation against him.
The Chief of Naval Staff, CNS, Vice-Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas has set up a special investigative panel to probe the alleged extortion and molestation of truck drivers by Naval officers, widely reported since 2017.
It was gathered that following Ibok’s orders, the special Navy panel summoned a critical meeting at the Western Naval headquarters, last week, asking truckers secretly to dish out names of corrupt Navy officers involved in extortion.
The Presidency, recently, withdrew Navy and Army personnel from the port access roads following series of complaints by truck drivers, as well as freight forwarding associations which indicted the officers for gross extortion and abuse of its privilege as head of the old taskforce team at the port access roads.