Truck owners

By Tony Nwankwo

The traffic logjam at the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, caused by the chaotic parking and movement of trucks, trailers and tankers, following the unending road repairs to TinCan Island ports is about to get worse, as the Federal and Lagos State Task Forces are impounding trucks.

Meanwhile, truck owners and drivers under the aegis of the Concerned Truckers Forum, during the week, protested in Apapa, on the continued seizure of their containers conveyed through barges from Mile II jetty to Apapa Quays. Truck owners had chosen to convey their trucks in barges from Mile II 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 over 500 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: 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 Mile II to TinCan Port. If you go by Ferry it takes you three hours. Government which is better? No More Task Force!” They would want governments to disband the task forces on the road leading to Nigeria premier ports.

Speaking at the occasion, leader of the Concerned Truckers Forum, Chief Anthony Agbanusi, said it was high 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 Mile II – TinCan axis. “If you go by road to TinCan Island Port, from Fatgbem, it takes six weeks, due to the very bad road and the congestion of trucks.

However, if you take ferry from Mile II to Apapa, using barges, it takes only three hours. Then the task force because, by using barges, they are deprived of the monies they extort, they impound your trucks and intimidate you to part with some money. It is the Task Forces that are causing the congestion on that stretch of road”, Agbanusi lamented.

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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. They are using LASTMA to harass and extort us”, he said.

Furthermore, Agbanusi said their tormentors, the Task Forces had, since Monday, June 15, blocked the entrance of the former Niger Motors premises, with heavy construction stones that can only be moved by earth moving machinery. “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 own feeding, others remove truck batteries, while some siphon AGOs from their trucks to sell to outsiders. Those of them with wives and children who had not seen their people for the weeks they have been locked up here, 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 North, who have abandoned them because they have exhausted the maintenance money they came on their journey to Lagos. This does not include the condition of trucks that are left in the mercy of hoodlums and area boys who vandalise them at will”, Agbanusi said.

His statements were corroborated by other truck owners: Ijebor Mary of 2nd Gate Tin-Can Ports, Godwin Ike, Lawrence Nwaenugwu and Stephen Akinniyi, while the barge owner at Apapa would want government to come to the aid of the suffering truck owners and their drivers, as, according to her, their premises is filled to the brim with trucks and containers, while the latest arrivals are left inside the barge with space for further space.

VANGUARD

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