Apapa: Multiple checkpoints frustrate electronic call-up system
Despite the implementation of electronic call-up system, security officials known as ‘enforcement team’ employed by the government to monitor truck movement in and out of Apapa and Tin-Can Island ports, have been found compounding the traffic gridlock by creating multiple checkpoints to extort money from truckers.
With the introduction of the electronic call-up, truckers are expected to pay N10,750 Value Added Tax (VAT) inclusive of booking Eto ticket; N10,000 for marking out TDO (terminal delivery order), and N15,000 for pre-gate charges, amounting to about N35,000 per trip, BusinessDay finding shows.
However, with extortion, a trucker spend as much as N80,000 to N100,000 per trip due to the multiple checkpoints created by the traffic enforcement team. Some insist the trucker must pay N5,000 or N10,000 despite having a call-up ticket, and if the trucker refuses, the person may be delayed or turned back, and in some cases, the truck would be towed.
Bala Mohammed, a truck owner, who points out that there are 34 checkpoints of extortion from Ijora-Olopa down to Apapa, which tends to create backward gridlock, says when a trucker refuses to pay at a particular checkpoint, the enforcement team could assault the driver, destroy the side mirrors or windshield.
According to Mohammed, there are two lanes of trucks going to the ports and they are export and empty container lanes, but in some cases, there would be the third one called express lane for those that have paid the extortion money to the enforcement team.
“Space may be available inside the port but security official would not pass trucks to enter the port until gridlock starts building on the road, and people would be approaching them individually with money to pass their trucks. Here, a truck could pay between N10,000 and N20,000 for express,” Mohammed states on phone.
Confirming this, Mohammed Bello-Koko, acting managing director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), states that the security officials including military men, policemen, officials of the NPA security department and others are sabotaging the smooth operations of the electronic call-up system by mounting several checkpoints.
“At night, military men escort vehicles (into the port), which is sabotage. Area boys are also involved in extortion and they find ways to divert trucks. We discovered a building not far from Apapa gate where one can get a number plate printed in less than 20 minutes. This number can be used to get an Eto ticket. Security agencies have raided the building and investigations are ongoing. This is why we are moving from the normal Eto that has digits to QR codes that are difficult to duplicate,” Bello-Koko says in an interview in Lagos.
Itunuoluwa Shonibare, another truck owner, who discloses that extortion has not ended even with the introduction of Eto electronic call-up system, says the security officials benefiting from the gridlock are called ‘Apapa Park Yahoo.’
Shonibare states that such officials pay as much as N10 million to their superiors to come back to Apapa where each official earn close to N2 million per night.
“Export containers paying N200,000 each to access the port, multiply this by 200 export trucks that access the ports,” she notes.
On fake Eto ticket, she says each code is sold for N5,000, which means that the six codes required to obtain Eto ticket goes for N30,000 while truckers also pay between N150,000 and N180,000 to avoid necessary pre-gates procedures.
Remi Ogungbemi, chairman, Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO), describes these checkpoints as tollgates where money is being collected from truckers.
“These uniform personnel have seen truckers as their ‘oil well’ and ‘ATM cards’ that they can exploit,” Ogungbemi explains.