.Truckers, LASTMA, Police, NPA, TTP trade words over alleged extortions
.As NPA, TTP acknowledge collection of the N11,000 levy for road access
.Operator of POS account under probe
By Olasunkanmi Akoni, Providence Adeyinka and Nelson Alu
After four hours meeting, representatives of Lagos State Government, Nigeria Police, Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, and stakeholders, yesterday, agreed to end the protracted gridlock in Apapa and environs, particularly, along Oshodi-Apapa Expressway.
Stakeholders at the meeting include: 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, Nigerian Police, Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA, among others.
The meeting witnessed heated accusations and counter-accusations among the stakeholders over issues of illegal roadblocks by miscreants, extortions and illegal collection of levies, among others.
Participants who spoke at the no holds bar meeting, pointed accusing fingers at Truckers, NPA, TTP, LASTMA, Police as well as port unions as responsible for the continuous gridlock in Apapa and environs.
Chairman Special Traffic Management and Enforcement Compliance Team, who is also the
Special Adviser to the Governor on Transportation, Oluwatoyin Fayinka, who convened the meeting read the riot acts to truckers, and stakeholders involved the ongoing mounting of illegal checkpoints, collection of bribe and impoundment of trucks other than the traffic team which is the sole body to carry out such enforcement.
While absolving his team from allegations of extortions, Fayinka, challenged anyone with proof of bribe-taking against his person or any members of the team to bring it to the public for investigation and appropriate action.
Fayinka appealed to stakeholders to stakeholders on the need to cooperate with the Lagos traffic team in order to have a seamless traffic movement in the axis henceforth.
Lagos team and stakeholders, however, agreed to ensure that no further roadblocks for collection of levies and any group caught should be arrested and arraigned accordingly.
Meanwhile, the NPA and TTP, acknowledged the collection of N11.000 from truckers for accessing ports.
Confirming the allegation, the Managing Director, 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 being made into an account belonging to it, revealed that the Department of State Service, DSS has been contacted to investigate the matter.
Mr Edaro Emmanuel, Senior Manager of NPA, in his submission, 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, the license you and they are also involved in container examination and release.
“Secondly, the Lagos state government also have 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 is supposed to go and seal the place, in your physical planning, you did not make provision for such kind of activity to be at that place, so the owners rely on 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 stakeholder’s engagement, it has been said that they are collecting money to drop empty containers, we are still going to investigate, it is for you to provide evidence.”
However, the gridlock on the access roads to Apapa ports which have crippled business activities in the area and crashed the economy is caused by the NPA policies and Truck Transit Park, TTP, United Truckers Forum alleged.
The Forum called for a review of the policy on levies which the stakeholders agreed.
“It should be reviewed to stop the traffic gridlock and save Nigeria economy by bringing it out of recession. NPA is the gateway to Nigeria economy and pillar holding Nigeria finance; it is the source that would enable the naira to compete with a dollar in the international market. NPA is the gateway to export. They should review the policy dragging Nigeria backward,” they maintained.
Recall that the forum embarked on a protest last month to express their dissatisfaction with the continued extortion by the police and officials of LASTMA.
Vanguard gathered that NPA policy mandated trucks plying on the Lagos road to make payment of N11,000 into an account owned by TTP before coming into the port, not inside the port.
Vanguard gathered further that the truckers have paid over N3 billion into TTP’s account.