Alleges security personnel on uniform escorts 20 trucks illegally into ports at night
The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has frowned on the persistent extortion of truck drivers through multiple illegal roadblocks by uniformed security operatives from government security agencies, unions and associations along the port corridors, hindering the ease of doing business.
The authority said investigations revealed that the combined team of the police, Navy, military, Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) and NPA staff among others, have been impeding the free flow of traffic on all the port corridors, thereby causing inefficiency in the handling of cargo in and out of the nation’s seaports.
The acting Managing Director, NPA, Mohammed Bello Koko, who disclosed this to journalists, said the security operatives operate along the seaport corridors.
When The Guardian conducted a site visit to Apapa at the weekend, there was heavy gridlock from Second Rainbow to Sunrise as trucks and tankers were static and blocked the road with no space for other road users to get out of the gridlock.
The common means of transportation, which is motorcycles, popularly known as okada were also stuck in the traffic congestion.
Combined security operatives of the Police, LASTMA, taskforce team and military were seen around the area with none showing concern to direct vehicular movement.
Koko disclosed that the security operatives on uniform now drive trucks, adding that on his several visits to the ports at night, he found them leading about 20 trucks into the port.
He said there was a need to clear all encumbrances and bottlenecks hindering the ease of doing business at the nation’s seaports, which he said is driving importers and investors to neighbouring ports.
The NPA acting MD noted that efforts are being intensified to dismantle all illegal checkpoints within the port corridors.He disclosed that security agencies, stakeholders and the Lagos State Government have agreed to streamline operational procedures to curtail extortion and sharp practices that hamper the enforcement of the truck traffic management at Apapa and the entire Maritime Logistic Ring (MLR).
He also called for more partnership among the NPA’s stakeholders towards stimulating the electronic call up system to considerable success.
Koko further urged truck drivers to resist extortion by refusing to give tips to security agents to allow them access into the ports.
“We are doing the best we can, we have written to the Inspector General of Police and engaged all the major stakeholders also to ensure that this stops. We are encouraging truck drivers to stop giving these tips, as long as they have their Eto tickets and they are doing the right thing, nobody should extort them,” he added.
Speaking on the poor state of roads, Koko said NPA has spoken with the Federal Ministry of Works and received assurance that the construction company in charge of the roads, Hitech, would increase their work pace to ensure the bad spots are fixed in no time.