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Alleged Extortion: Apapa traffic takes a turn for the worse

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*Traffic-jammed Berger axis of the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway

•Task forces impounds 500 trucks •Truck owners, drivers protest

By Tony Nwankwo

THE traffic logjam at the Mile2 end of the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, has escalated as the Federal and Lagos State Task Forces begin impounding trucks along the corridor.

The logjam is caused by the chaotic parking and movement of trucks, trailers and tankers, following the unending road repairs to TinCan Island ports.

Meanwhile, truck owners and drivers under the aegis of the Concerned Truckers Forum, CTF, during the week, protested in Apapa, on the continued seizure of their containers conveyed through barges from Mile2 jetty to Apapa Quays.

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Truck owners had chosen to convey their trucks in barges from Mile2 Jetty to save time and money as they contend to reach the ports at Apapa.

Sources say, for weeks, the Task Forces have impounded over 500 trucks and parked some of them at the disused premises of the former Niger Motors compound along Creek Road, Apapa.

In the protest, the hundreds of truck drivers and motor boys, most of whom have remained in the locked down compound for three weeks, carried placards, one of which read: “Extortion, Extortion”

One of the placard bearers stated: ”Imagine from Mile 2 Axis through Fatgbem Petrol Station, to Coconut at the cost of N170,000 per truck, from Coconut to TinCan and Gate at the cost of N70,000, totalling N240,000.

”If you go by road, it takes six weeks from Mile2 to TinCan Port. If you go by Ferry it takes you three hours. Government which is better? No More Task Force!”

Leader of the Forum, Chief Anthony Agbanusi, said it was time the Federal Government came to their rescue as they were tired of the intimidation and harassment of the Task Forces set up by the Federal and Lagos State Governments to decongest the Mile2 – TinCan axis.

According to him, “If you go by road to TinCan Island Port, from Fatgbem Petrol station near Mile2, it takes six weeks, due to the very bad road and the congestion of trucks. However, if you take ferry from Mile2 to Apapa, using barges, it takes only three hours.

”Now the task force, because by using barges, they are deprived of the monies they extort, they impound your trucks from the barges and intimidate you to part with some money. It is the Task Forces that are causing the congestion on that stretch of road.”

According to him, on June 1, 2020, the Task Force went to Ibru Jetty where truck owners parked 100 trailers, they towed all the trucks with their mounted containers and locked them up for five days. After five days, they towed the vehicles at night to Ijora Costain and Orile, collecting N200,000 each without any receipts.”

Furthermore, Agbanusi said their tormentors, the Task Forces had, since June 15, 2020 blocked the entrance of the former Niger Motors premises, with heavy construction stones that can only be moved by earth moving machinery.

He said: “We did not commit any crime, rather we are helping to decongest the ports. Due to the present condition of the trucks, recalcitrant drivers have started removing trucks’ tyres to sell to raise money for their feeding, others remove truck batteries, while some siphon diesel from their trucks to sell and make a living.

”Those of them with wives and children who had not seen them for weeks, are lamenting their precarious conditions. What you hear here are statements of misery and panic. Yet, when you go to Tin Can ports, you see containers lying everywhere. Importers are paying demurrage to shipping companies, yet the Task Forces are not helping us to deliver them and decongest the ports.

“You move to Costain, you will see trucks abandoned by their drivers, mostly from the Northern part of the country, who have abandoned them because they have exhausted the maintenance money they had for their journey to Lagos. This does not include the condition of trucks that are left at the mercy of hoodlums and area boys who vandalise them at will.”

His statements were corroborated by other truck owners: Ijebor Mary of 2nd Gate Tin-Can Ports, Godwin Ike, Lawrence Nwaenugwu and Stephen Akinniyi.

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