•Lagos govt, stakeholders ban illegal roadblocks
•Truckers, LASTMA, Police, NPA, TTP trade words over alleged extortions
•As NPA, TTP acknowledge collection of N11,000 levy for road access
•Operator of POS account under probe
By Olasunkanmi Akoni, Providence Adeyinka & Nelson Alu
STUNNING corruption allegations involving stakeholders in the management of the Apapa traffic were, yesterday, revealed after a four-hour marathon meeting organised by the Lagos State government.
Vanguard, however, gathered that the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, policy mandated trucks plying Lagos roads to make payment of N11,000 into an account owned by TTP, before coming into the port, not inside the port.
It was also gathered that the truckers have paid over N3 billion into TTP’s account.
The meeting, involving representatives of the Lagos State Government, NPA, and other stakeholders agreed to end the protracted gridlock in Apapa and environs, particularly along Oshodi-Apapa expressway by banning illegal roadblocks.
The meeting, however, witnessed heated accusations and counter-accusations among the stakeholders over issues of illegal roadblocks by miscreants, extortions and illegal collection of levies, among others.
Stakeholders at the meeting were Truck Transit Park, TTP; Council of Maritime Transport Unions and Association, COMTUA; National Association of Road Transport Owners, NARTO; Road Transport Employer Association of Nigeria, RTEAN; Nigeria Police, and Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA, among others.
Participants, who spoke at the no-holds-barred meeting, accused truckers, NPA, TTP, LASTMA, Police and port unions of the continuous gridlock in Apapa and environs.
Fayinka reads riot acts
Chairman, Special Traffic Management and Enforcement Compliance Team, who is also Special Adviser to the Governor on Transportation, Oluwatoyin Fayinka, who convened the meeting, read the riot acts to truckers and stakeholders, involved in illegal checkpoints, collection of bribes and impoundment of trucks other than the traffic team, which is the sole body to carry out such enforcement.
While absolving his team of alleged extortions, Fayinka challenged anyone with proof of bribe-taking against him or members of the team to present it for investigation and appropriate action.
Fayinka urged stakeholders to cooperate with the Lagos traffic team to have a seamless traffic movement in the axis, henceforth.
No more roadblocks
The Lagos team and stakeholders, however, agreed that no further roadblocks for the collection of levies, adding that any group caught should be arrested and arraigned accordingly.
Collection of N11,000
Meanwhile, the NPA and TTP acknowledged the collection of N11.000 from truckers before accessing the ports.
Confirming the allegation, the Managing Director of TTP, Mr. Jama Onwubuariri, said that an investigation was carried out on the account, via POS used for the collection of the levies.
Onwubuariri, who said that TTP received alerts on N11,000 paid into an account belonging to it, revealed that the Department of State Services, DSS, has been contacted to investigate the matter.
READ ALSO: Apapa Gridlock: Lagos govt, stakeholders in 4-hour meeting, ban illegal roadblocks; to review port levies
In his remarks, a Senior Manager of NPA, Mr Edaro Emmanuel, said: “I want to address the issue of bounded terminals. People have asked who is in charge of licensing the bounded terminals. Like you are aware, bounded terminals are within the purview of the Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, license and they are also involved in container examination and release.
“Secondly, the Lagos State government also has a role. You have your land planning, if you did not permit a building to be involved as a container holding bay and it is being used for that purpose, the Lagos State government ought to seal the place. In your physical planning, you did not make provision for such kind of activity to be at the place, so the owners rely on the Lagos state government to regulate where these places are sited.
“Most bounded terminals, because they do not have activities going on in them, shipping companies approach them to help use their facility as empty container holding bays.
“NPA and shippers Council are working for the government, there is synergy; even though we have inter-lapping functions, if you feel you are being extorted please go to shippers Council and complain.
“Unfortunately, during our stakeholders’ engagement, it has been said that they are collecting money to drop empty containers, we are still investigating this, it is for you to provide evidence.”
UTF accuses NPA, TTP
On its part, the United Truckers Forum accused the NPA and Truck Transit Park, TTP, of causing gridlock on the access road to Apapa ports.
The forum, however, called for a review of the policy on levies which the stakeholders agreed.
The UTP said: “It should be reviewed to stop the traffic gridlock and save Nigeria’s economy by bringing it out of recession. NPA is the gateway to Nigeria’s economy and the pillar holding Nigeria’s finance. The NPA should review the policy dragging Nigeria backward.”
The forum had embarked on a protest last month to express their dissatisfaction over the continued extortion by the police and officials of LASTMA.