August 8, 2021

Stop extortion of logistics operators

Stop extortion of logistics operators

EXTORTION, which is rampant among bad law officers and hoodlums who are allowed to operate freely in states like Lagos, is a major form of corruption in Nigeria.

Bad eggs in the law enforcement agencies engage in it as a means of earning extra remuneration or outright corrupt self-enrichment.  Unfortunately, it is generally condoned by those who should act.

Extortion is a major headache which operators of the ride hailing services and logistics operators face every day, thus making engagement in that important sector nightmarish. 

It is common to see riders of the logistics/courier bikes struggling at street corners and bus-stops with the hoodlums usually dressed in green and white uniforms in Lagos, policemen, local government revenue agents, Nigerian Postal Service, NIPOST staff; LASTMA, VIO and others whose intent is not the common good, but for self.

All complaints by the operators through their unions are given mere lip service attention by governments and law enforcement agencies. For instance, the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, on June 28, 2021, called on the Nigeria Police to arrest and prosecute the extortionists. 

The Police know it is their routine duty to ensure that culprits are brought to book but they handle the matter with kid gloves because some of their officers and men are allegedly deeply involved in the crime.

We call on state governments all over the country to take the role the distribution sector plays in the economy very seriously. Technology and even the ongoing coronavirus pandemic have changed much of the ways we used to live. 

Many more people can sit in the comfort of their homes or offices and order almost anything and have them delivered to their doorsteps.

This is helping to save costs, reduce the volume of vehicular traffic on the roads, reduce the stress of environmental pollution and boost commercial activities. These are the roles that the logistics, courier and ride-hailing operators play in our economy today, and a lot of our youth have found the sector an attractive area to invest in or take up jobs as riders or drivers. 

The sector will grow even bigger and work for the benefit of society if encouraged. That is the outcome of good governance.

But that is not what we are seeing. These struggling startups are being harassed, overtaxed and over-extorted. Some have either collapsed with the moneys of their investors gone or voluntarily pulled out of the business.

Apart from its importance to the service sector of the economy, the logistics businesses have provided extra streams of income for many and created jobs. Government must prove it is serious about improving our ease of doing business by going all-out to protect the sector.

Those caught harassing them should be brought to book.