Apapa: Over 26 illegal checkpoints hurt haulage business
The illegal checkpoints mounted by security operatives in charge of controlling traffic on Apapa roads and extortion of truckers are hurting haulage business at the nation’s seaport, operators have lamented.
BusinessDay findings show that there exist over 26 illegal checkpoints within the Apapa and Tin-Can Island corridor. As a result, truckers are compelled to pay between N80,000 and N100,000 per trip to access the port, despite having valid electronic call-up tickets.
The agencies that mount the checkpoints include Police, Army, Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, Road Safety, Custom, and Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) as well as local government and thugs.
Haulage operators said they spent a significant part of their profits paying their way in and out of the port.
It was also learnt that monies spent by truckers on checkpoints are factored by cargo owners into the amount charged as the cost of haulage, a development that threatens the stability of the electronic call-up systems for port-bound trucks.
Bala Mohammed, a truck owner, confirmed to BusinessDay, in a phone interview, the continued extortion of truckers and the existence of checkpoints on the Apapa and Tin-Can Island Ports corridors.
According to him, truckers pay between N5,000 and N10,000 to security operatives per checkpoint, depending on the person in charge at a particular time.
He said truckers were still being extorted at the checkpoints at the Total Bridge, Mr. Biggs, Ijora-Olopa, Iganmu, Sifax, Area B, and others, adding that the security operatives were still collecting money from trucks with valid electronic call-up tickets.
According to Mohammed, the NPA, the Lagos State Government, and the Maritime Police Command recently conveyed a meeting where resolutions aimed at ending the problem of extortion and multiple checkpoints were reached after several complaints by truckers.
He said: “We are yet to see the outcome and the implementation of the resolution as checkpoints are still in existence on Apapa and Tin-Can Island logistic corridor and the people behind them have continued to extort truckers.
“Truckers do not know the modalities being put in place and factors that are delaying the implementation, but we are optimistic that the implementation would reduce the rate at which people are extorted.”
Mohammed, however, called on the NPA management and the Lagos State Government to speed up the implementation of the resolutions to dismantle checkpoints.
“Multiple checkpoints and extortion are not only killing trucking business but also frustrating the implementation of the electronic call-up system. It also frustrates ease of doing business at the port as truckers waste man-hours due to the delays that sometimes add to the gridlock on the port roads,” he added.
Giving an insight into the happenings at the port, Olufunmilayo Olotu, port manager of Lagos Port Complex, said at a forum in Lagos that social miscreants also mounted illegal checkpoints at the port with the backing of security agencies.
She said that these miscreants were collecting monies from truckers and in turn giving deliverables to the security agencies they were representing.
According to her, some of the notable ones among them are called ‘ECOMOG, Kenbe,’ and they all stand in for security agencies.
Olotu said that containers checked inside the terminals and at the port gates by Customs officers were also stopped a few meters away from the port gate, which is at the Leventis bus stop, by another group of Customs officers.
“When the same container is moved into town, it will also be checked. I believe that if something is discovered to be wrong with the container along the line, Customs can track the officer in the terminal, who was supposed to have done the right thing while examining the container but failed to do so, rather than having FOU, taskforce and Strikeforce mounting checkpoints on the road,” she said.
While saying that Police and Army officers also mounted checkpoints, the Apapa Port manager said that Hitech, which is the construction company in charge of the ongoing works on Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, came with Police and Army to protect them while they were working on the port axis of the road, but at the completion of their work, both officers were still there.
Moses Fadipe, the national coordinator of the Port Standing Task Team, said that between Apapa and Sifax Ijora, there exist about 26 checkpoints where truckers doing legitimate business are extorted.