By Godfrey Bivbere
INVESTIGATION by Vanguard Maritime Report has revealed that the high-level extortion experienced when Naval personnel controlled the traffic at the Mile2 inward Apapa end of the Apapa/Oshodi expressway, has returned in full swing.
On the spot findings also show that tanker drivers make payment to street urchins (thugs) identified as proxies of the security agents at the foot of the bridge from Badagry inward Apapa where the drivers are expected to park before approaching the toll point that security agents are stationed.
For parking along the expressway before the checkpoint, the drivers pay N2,000 to the urchins before going to negotiate for passage into the Mile2-Wharf-Tank Farm stretch of the road. Drivers are expected to pay at every security point before getting to the terminal operators.
There are proxies at the various checkpoints that negotiate for the security agents and traffic officials. Following observations and discussions with some drivers and roadside hawkers, Vanguard Maritime Report gathered that from the first checkpoint, a driver (some of them are accompanied by the truck owners or supervisors) pays between N10,000 and N20,000 at the checkpoint at the Mile2 overhead bridge, and another payment at the foot of the bridge leading to Berger Suya. Payments are made at several other points on the road to the Wharf or yards of the shipping terminals.
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Recalled that Vanguard Maritime Report had exclusively reported that truck drivers had complained that they paid up to a total of about N150,000 as a bribe to security agents posted to control traffic between Mile 2 and Tin can Second Gate to be allowed passage when Naval officials were posted to control the traffic. In an exclusive chat with Vanguard Maritime Report in Lagos, a truck manager, Ikechukwu Amago, had listed between 10 and12 security checkpoints between Mile 2 and Tin can Second gate where each truck was expected to part with some amount of money before being allowed passage.
He said the amount ranges from N10,000 to N20,000 at each security checkpoint. Vanguard Maritime Report’s investigation revealed that there are cases where truck drivers are given an account number to deposit the amount for all the security checkpoints from where such monies are then wired to each checkpoint.
On several occasions, Vanguard Maritime Report had seen trucks escorted by military men on motorbikes (Okada) through each checkpoint. At each of these checkpoints, there are civilian accomplices who take records of each truck that gets access through the security point.
A source close to the leadership of the Association of Maritime Truck Owners, AMATO, who spoke to Vanguard Maritime Report on the record-keeping explained that at the end of each day such records help them to reconcile and determine the sharing formula. The source revealed that each security checkpoint makes between N1.5 million and N3 million daily with truck drivers that pay between N10,000 and N20,000 being the ones that get express passage. The source said that there were others who followed the queue and parted with between N500 and N2,000.
He further disclosed that the road becomes blocked most of the time because in their attempt to meet the financial targets, the security agents negotiate and pilot too many trucks across too many checkpoints, resulting in the congestion of the roads.