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Tincan Truck operators threaten withdrawal of service over alleged extortion by security at night.

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Segun Oladipupo

Tincan Island Port Truck Operators have given the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) one week to address the challenges bedevilling the newly introduced electronic call up system in the port, failure which they have threatened to withdraw their services.The group of truckers spoke with journalists on Tuesday during the second day of  their protest to showcase their grievances about the anormalies in the system.

The E-Call up is an electronic system of inviting trucks into the ports to nip in the bud the menace of traffic on the port access roads.

The system eventually took off about one month ago.

The truck operators ,who said they were not aversed to the innovation, said that the problems attached to its implementation process should be expunged for ease of operation for the truck operators.

The group of truck owners whie addressing members at Tincan Second gate, alleged that the process was fraught with fraud, extortion by owners of the holding bays assigned to drop empty containers.

Coordinator of the truck operators at Tin Can port,  Pastor Sylvester Keshinro,  said that even though they had their own holding bays, NPA refused to approve of them hence forcing them to park their trucks in the accredited truck parks which he said has been charging the truckers exorbitant fees to enter the truck parks.He claimed that the security operatives along the Mile 2/Sunrise road have been a thorn in the flesh of truck drivers.

Keshinro who doubles as the a chieftain of the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigerian (RTEAN), stated that trucks were forced to make U-turn at Sunrise , a few kilometres away from the port despite evidence of call-up with the drivers.

According to him, the most painful thing is that only 48 hours is given for expiration of the call up ticket, saying that efforts to enter the port could take more than four days and the trucker would be made to pay extra charge even when inability to access the port is not the fault of the truck driver.

He therefore called on the Federal Government to review the system or the operators would be forced to withdraw their services in the port.

His words, “What we are asking the government to do for us is that NPA should go out with transporters to check if truly the designated holding bays are functioning or not.

“Again, let the NPA investigate the amount payable for empty containers at the holding bays ; at least with these two facts, they will know that the holding bays and the call-up system in place is not functioning.“We also want NPA to join us and visit Sunrise bus stop and see things themselves and look at how to amend their ways.

Speaking further, he said most of the shipping lines have no functional holding bays.

The Coordinator lamented that operators of designated  holding bays however, charge the truckers as high as N180,000 after 48hours.

While lamenting the alleged  multiple extortion by security agencies deployed to monitor the free flow of vehicular movement along the corridor, Keshiro called on the government to monitor activities at the Sunrise -Mile 2,  noting that the combined  operatives of LASTMA, Police, NPA personnel were milking transporters out of their hard earn monies.Also speaking at the protest ground, Comrade Patrick Okonkwo lamented that the designated holding bays collect huge sums of money from them before they could drop their empties, saying they also charge demurrage if one could not gain access at the right time.

Okonkwo stressed that the additional N16,000 were deducted as demurrage charges after 48hrs, alleging that  the e-call up system is a fraud.

He also reaffirmed that most of the shipping companies lack holding bays and it has affected the operations of truckers , thus cause undue delay on the movement of trucks out of the port.

He said, “E Call-up  system is fraudulent because we are not supposed to pay any form of money.
“NPA said they want to decongest Apapa that everybody should go to the parks, which is a welcome development.

“You can stay in your park and generate your call up with your Terminal Delivery Order (TDO) but that is not what is obtainable,  so therefore the call up system is not free and that is why we say it is fraudulent. The last transaction I made is N18,000.

”The call up system is  supposed to be by a trip  and not on  48hrs basis as instructed by the NPA”,he noted.

Comrade Francis Okechukwu, one of the protesters and leader of the group lauded the introduction of the E-call up system but lamented that truckers were faced with multiple extortions by the government agencies deployed to the corridor.

He called on NPA to make each call up ticket to last for a trip instead of just 48 hours which he said was not enough sometimes to gain entrance into the port.

“We want the government to make the e-call up system by a trip and not 48hours on basis. The 48hours expiration of the call up system makes not meaning because the roads are not in good condition while returning empty containers back to the port.

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