ask about N200,000 to N300,000 exchange hands before drivers access port
By Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA- Worried by the continued gridlock and other traffic challenges in and within the Apapa Port, the House of Representatives yesterday resolved to investigate an alleged extortion of truck drivers by the terminal security operatives.
The House believed that the extortion was responsible for the traffic challenges as operatives delayed the movement of trucks drivers who refused to “cooperate” with them.
The House took the resolution consequent upon a motion titled “Urgent Need to Investigate the unwarranted Extortion of Truck Operators and other Port users by Law Enforcement Agents at Apapa Port”, moved at Thursday plenary by Hon. Olusola Steve Fatoba from Ekiti State.
Moving the motion, Fatoba said that the truck operators pay as high as N200,000 to N300,000 to gain access into the port.
He said: “The House notes that the Apapa Port in Lagos has been enmeshed in crisis and traffic gridlock over a long time which led to the establishment of a Presidential Task Team to restore law and order on the roads leading to the nation’s seaports;
“Also notes that a team of law enforcement agents comprising men of the Nigeria Police Force, Lagos State Traffic Management Agency (LASTMA) and others are at the Port to maintain law and order and control vehicular movement in and out of the Port, particularly, movement of trucks going in to load and unload containers at the Port;
“Worried that the law enforcement agents that are supposed to maintain law and order at the Port have now formed a “cartel” in cahoot with unscrupulous staff of APM Terminals Apapa/Nigerian Ports Authority, extorting money from each truck operator in amounts ranging from N200, 000.00 to N300, 000.00 to gain entrance into the Port, to load or offload containers and this ugly trend has been going on unabated for years, but became worse after the Naval officers were removed from the operations, as the sum of N60, 000.00 to N100, 000.00 were extorted when the Naval Officers were in charge of the operation;
“Also worried that as a result of the activities of the law enforcement agents, a truck may spend up to two months before gaining access into the terminal which is causing a lot of hardships and huge increase in the cost of doing business which may inevitably lead to unrest and break down of law and order by the frustrated and oppressed truck operators;
“Aware that the Federal Government has been making frantic efforts to facilitate ease of doing business at the Port but it appears that there is a deliberate effort by some people or groups of people to frustrate the efforts of the government because of their selfish interests;
“Concerned about the general perception, especially, by importers and exporters and exporters, clearing and forwarding agents and truck operators that the problems are lingering because of the belief that the leadership of the law enforcement agencies concerned were benefiting directly or indirectly from the crises, hence, there is no incentive for them to proffer enduring solution”.
Adopting the motion, the House mandated its Committee on Works and Housing to investigate the activities of law enforcement agents and terminal operators at the Port with a view to finding a lasting solution to the suffering of the truck operators.
It also urged the Nigerian Ports Authority and the concessionaire, APM Terminals Apapa (APMT) to fashion out modalities and processes that will be in conformity with international best practices on truck management at the port.
The committee was given 4 weeks to conclude its assignment and report back to the House for further legislative action.