In a protest at the government house in Alausa Ikeja on the 30th of june 2021 by the task force committee of Nigeria Association Of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) and its members, the association registered their grievances with Lagos state government for the alleged extortion of their members by government agency indiscriminately.
Chairman Lagos State Task force, Nigeria Association of Road Transport Owners, Comrade Prince Hassan Adekoya along side members of his association expressed their various displeasure to journalists at the protest ground as the spate of illegal extortion of their members becomes alarming.
Hassan Adekoya in a press interview said it is no longer going well for them and the owners of the trucks. They are tired of paying law enforcement officers outrageous bills in carrying out their activities.
The protesters call on lagos state government for a review of the unfriendly policies meted on them by the handlers of the trucking activities in Apapa and Tincan axis.
“We are here to draw the attention of our father President Buhari and also to call on the smartest governor of Lagos state Mr Babajide Sanwoolu over the situation in Apapa.
“It is no longer going well for us and the truck owners, the ways and manners of operation around Apapa axis. We have several enforcement team that extort our members, they hijack our truck unlawfully. They slam us outrageous bills ranging from two hundred thousand to three hundred thousand naira. It takes us 3 months for our export trucks to access the port. All of these, we are tired.
“We are tired of NPA and their policies. All their policies are not going too well for the industry. We need a review over the terminals, terminal owners, NPA, ETO &TTP review” We are tired, he said.
“Mr Governor has done his best, the enforcement team is nothing to write home about. They are not serving the state, they are not serving the nation. By now, extortion has been legalised in Apapa daily. Extortion takes place in almost all the checking points. We are suppose to go in with ETO/TTP app for 10,000 naira. At the moment, it had been increased to 20,000 and 30,000 naira.
“These are not just mere allegations, all our affected members have proofs. Some team called the “abandoned team” come over during the night and hijack our trucks, they take it over, charge us high, we need to know who is behind the abandonment looting spree. We need to know what their duties are, we need to review all of the policies”. He said.
Comrade Adekoya said the fundamental causes of inflation in the country can be attributed to these alleged immoralities by NPA, law enforcement agents and APMT who are in charge of the terminals.
“The 200,000 and 300,000 we paid are in cash which are not even remitted to government’s purse. That is why you have to buy everything high on the street because of the ripple effect of the immoral acts”
One of the protesters Collins, a truck owner also a driver said the ETO online queuing system software is perfectly good and the workers of the software are good too. He stressed that since they are under NPA who designed the software back end, they are not working optimally.
“NPA has decided to frustrate the activities of transporters, exporters, importers and everybody operating within the port of the federation. The port in Apapa, the port in Tincan axis, they have decided to frustrate us and they have achieved that technically.
“They brought a software known as ETO (Queuing system software). The software is perfectly good and the workers of the software are very very good. They are doing their best. But since they are under NPA, they are not operating optimally. They take instructions from NPA and NPA has been frustrating this business for a very long time.
“NPA woke up one morning and decided to shut down the portal for exporting. They told us plainly that export truck is not going to enter the port. They did it two times. First time 2 weeks and the second time was 3 weeks. They told us we are not going to export our commodities in this country.
“The terminal operators are not also helping matters. They are killing the business. APMT in charge of the terminals can wake up one morning and tell us they can’t accept export containers in this country. You see so many drivers are being frustrated in the line. You know the worst part, when you are frustrated in the line, you can’t even go anywhere.
“You see a team called abandon team, they come to tow our truck and call it abandoned truck having frustrated the drivers on the queue. They slam us with fine about 300,000 to 400,000 naira after frustrating us deliberately”. Collins said
“If you ask them who is in charge of this abandon narratives, nobody will give you a direct answer. Ask any driver driving a container truck about their experience, just go their and make your own findings, everybody is frustrated in Apapa.
“The government should set up a wider stakeholders that would encompass the transporters, importers, exporters, the custom license agents, and the terminal operators, we have to sit on a round table and talk this out”. He opined.
Chairman Apapa unit of Narto, Comrade Wale Oladehinde also added his voice and said the reason for the protest was to let the government know what they are passing through for several months within Apapa and Tinker axis.
“If ETO’s app refuses to grant truck access to the port, thereby occupying some spaces because it didn’t move, this committee would say the truck was abandoned, the team will then slam us with an outrageous fine.
“We want Lagos state government to come to our aid to put a stop to all these illegal extortion of our members, to stop all these illegal towing of our trucks in the name of abandoned. We want the government to come sanitize Apapa and Tinkan axis.
“We appreciate the effort of Lagos state governor in making Apapa axis free from traffic gridlock, some people sent by the government are sabotaging government’s strides because of their own selfishness, because of what they want to gain”. Oladehinde asserts.
Vice chairman Lagos State NARTO chapter Mr Ibrahim Lawal alluded to the alleged illegitimate extortion of truckers in an interview with the press. He said Governor who deployed law enforcement officers to Tincan and Apapa axis is not aware of their atrocities hence the reason for staging this protest to keep the government informed about these atrocities so they can nip it in the bud through stakeholders dialogue.
The Director in charge of complains and protests in the Office of the Civic engagement Mr Obey Kolawole received the hard copy of the agitations of NARTO on behalf of the state governor and said NARTO’s previous letters addressed to Lagos state government will be reviewed and revisited.