By Godfrey Bivbere & Godwin Oritse
LAGOS—THE Ports Standing Task Team, PSTT, a presidential committee set up by the Presidency to clear the port access roads, has accused the Lagos State Government; the operators of the call-up system, TTP; Lagos State Traffic Management Agency, LASTMA; the police and others of preventing it from clearing the Oshodi-Mile2 inward Tin-can gridlock.
Checks by Vanguard, which were corroborated by key sources in the areas showed that there are no fewer than 58 extortion points manned by the Police; Park and Garages ECOMOG, Oduduwa boys, Lagos State Traffic Management Agency, LASTMA, Maritime workers, Apapa LGA, and area boys among others.
According to Vanguard’s investigation published on Wednesday, going inward Tincan along the expressway, there are 25 extortion points where each truck driver pays N61,000.
Outward Tincan, there are 12 extortion points and a fee of N25,000.
In the Apapa corridor, there are 19 points and a toll of N52,000.
Oftentimes, there are disagreements between the drivers and the collectors of the fees leading to tight gridlock.
We can clear menace if Presidency orders—PSTT
In an exclusive interview with Vanguard while reacting to claims that the PSTT was foot-dragging on taking action on the menace, PSTT National Coordinator, Mr Moses Fadipe, said previous efforts to clear the route were hindered by the agencies mentioned above, who claimed they had set up a task force to handle it.
Fadipe said the PSTT has the capacity to clear the port access road like they had done on the Apapa access road that is now motorable and gridlock-free.
He noted that the PSTT has not only cleared the Apapa access route but has also been maintaining it for some time now.
The PSTT boss said if the Presidency gives the order today that the PSTT should clear that route, it will be achieved promptly.
His words: “Remember, we keep talking about in-bound (trucks going to the ports). When we cleared the out-bound and wanted to move to the in-bound, it became a problem.
“What was the problem? The Lagos State Government; TTP, the operators of the call-up system; LASTMA and the police said they have constituted a task force to look into it.
“They said it is their call-up corridor and that they are the ones managing it, that PSTT has no business there. We tried to make them see reason but they refused. When we tried to go and dismantle it, it became a problem that led to clashes.
“A government agency clashing with another government agency! Look, we are the ones managing it. So we said if that is the case, we will maintain the ones that we have dismantled but the unions keep coming to us.
“It is not difficult for PSTT to clear. If the government gives us the go-ahead today, we will do it.
The Minister of Transportation then represented by the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers Council, NSC, was there when we launched ‘operation free the port access road’ and we cleared them.
“When you keep clashing with other government agencies and nobody is saying anything and government is not talking, there is a problem.
“I am happy Vanguard is doing a campaign. If you remember, at a time Apapa was impregnable but PSTT was able to clear it and up till now we are able to sustain that route and that is why people are able to go in and out of Apapa today.”
Tankers don’t have call-up system — AMATO
Reacting to the development, Secretary General of the Association of Maritime Truck Owners, AMATO, Mr. Sanni Mohammed, said the absence of a call-up system for tankers is an issue that needs to be addressed.
Mohammed also said the movement of tankers to the various fuel depots must be scheduled and organised such that other road users would have access to the roads as well.
He said: “You see, the tankers on the road do not have a call-up system that organises and schedules their movements from pre-gates to their respective depots. They come to the roads and park indiscriminately and any slight challenge, they come out and block the road, and go on strike, committing all sorts of impunity.
“So there is a need to engage them and make them understand that the roads are the life-wire of the economy. They need to re-organise themselves in a way that it will be a win-win situation for trucks that are coming to ports and tankers that are going to the depots.
“There should be orderliness. I am looking forward to a kind of stakeholders’ engagement with the Petroleum Tanker Drivers, PTDs, to see how we can work out modalities that will bring some level of orderliness in the way trucks and tankers come into the ports and depots.
“The tankers and the depots are the problems we are having on that axis, there are too many depots on that axis and without a template that will regulate the movement of tankers and port-bound trucks, they will be a problem.”