By Dapo Olawuni |
Truck drivers operating at the Apapa premier port yesterday came out in their numbers to protest lack of access into the port and alleged discrimination against some of them by the security agents, especially Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) security staff.
The truckers also alleged that the presidential task team chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was extorting money from them before allowing their trucks into the port.
According to one of the protesters who spoke with journalists and gave his name as Ayotunde Ismaila, the security agents in collaboration with the presidential task team allegedly create illegal roadblocks where they detain truckers for pecuniary reasons.
“They use the opportunity to harass and extort money from us, if you refuse to bribe them, they can detain your truck for hours or days”
Another truckers who spoke during the protest alleged that only privileged truck drivers who have agreed to the financial terms of the law enforcement agents are granted access into the port environment.
Also speaking, former Chairman of Lillypond chapter of the Association of the Nigerian Customs Agents (ANLCA) Mr. Femi Olabanji blamed the protest on the failure of the manual call up system being operated by the NPA, he alleged that some trucks stay for several days at the Lillypond terminal where NPA was using as truck holding bay without being able to access the port to carry goods.
According to him “ we are fed up, I have some goods to carry at the port but I cannot carry them, my trucks have been at the Lillypond transit park for four weeks now still waiting for call up, and the drivers of these trucks collect money from me every day, without doing any single job, in fact I heard that recently a driver abandoned his boss truck and said the man should go and carry the truck whenever he has the time because he was frustrated, there is no job for him to do anymore, he has been there for weeks without accessing the port”.
Banji further accused NPA of showing favouritism by giving some individuals who do not have a single truck the opportunity to extort N10, 000 from truck owners and drivers by disguising as garage owners
“Another frustrating thing is that individual truck drivers cannot access the so called Lillypond Park, they will have to be under a garage, so what some of these people do is that they go to NPA, as soon as they know somebody there and register their name as garage owners without having a single truck
“These people will now go round collecting N10, 000 from individual truck drivers before they can access the port, imagine somebody who do not have a single truck collecting N10, 000 from like 10 trucks daily you know how much such a person is making daily now imagine that monthly.” He said.
He disclosed that some of the truckers have agreed to invite human right activists to come to their aid. During the protest, protesters in their hundreds were heard chanting “CP, Ole!
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