Truck owners who are members of the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) are locked in a battle of wit with the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) over a quit order issued to them by the agency to vacate a facility they occupied at Kirikiri Lighter Terminal, Lagos.
NPA had on 27th January 2021 issued a quit notice to the leadership of the association saying, “All Trespassers of this land are hereby given seven days notice from 27th January, 2021 to quit with their possessions”
“Defaulters will be prosecuted and properties found will be confiscated; Order by NPA management”.
The holding bay,with capacity to hold over fifty trucks belonging to NPA, was said to have been handed over to the association to ease the congestion that pervaded KLT terminal at that time.
The Chairman of the Association, Comrade Peter Eze ,said that the association made the terminal what it is, including building the fence round it.
He added that RTEAN had made efforts for over a decade to formalise the occupancy of the land to no avail only to be notified that it should quit within seven days which he described as foul play.
Comrade Eze said several letters were written in view of getting consent of the Authority which the association had developed into a standard holding bays.
The Chapter Chairman who frowned at the action of the management of NPA, disclosed that the short notice for truckers to vacate the holding bay without proper consultation with members, did not go down well with the operators and may seek court injunction if not properly managed by the Authority.
He expressed high hopes of sustaining the complex, pointing out that the association had a robust relationship with management of NPA for over two decades.
“We will do our best to ensure that we sustain this facility. We have engaged the Chief Estate Officer of NPA and he had assured us that we will manage the place only for us to see the quit notice last week.
“The word trespass is what I am not comfortable with because we have spent millions of naira to develop this facility and I don’t think it’s proper for NPA to carry out such actions.”
Also speaking, Coordinator of the protest and former Secretary RTEAN KLT Phase 1 Chapel, Comrade Godwin Ikeji lamented that despite several letters written to management of NPA for the association to maintain and upgrade the facility, they chose to evict the truckers from the facility.
Ikeji maintained that there must have been some fowl play along the line for highest bidder to take possession of the facility.
According to him, outcome of the meeting today would further determine the actions of the association.
“We spent millions of naira to develop this facility . At least on a monthly basis. We told management back then that whatever it will take for us to sustain this facility should be formalised because we have the monies spent so far to upgrade the place.
“This place used to be swampy and bushy but with the contributions from members overtime,we have been able to develop the place to a standard place.
“It was our effort to make the garage among one of the enlisted holding bays we have today. We heard also that there is a mega plan to convert this place to a mega garage.
“All our appeals all these years despite our letters have received deaf ears from management of NPA,”Ikeji stated.
When contacted, the Assistant General Manager Corporate and Strategic Communications of NPA, Ibrahim Nasiru said that the management decided to withdraw the occupancy of the facility from the truckers because it needs to convert it to source of income for the government.
He added that since they have been using the facility, they have never paid any amount of money to the purse of NPA.
He averred that the truck owners are occupying the land illegally and it is high time it was converted to good use that will generate income for the government.
When asked why the space was not concessioned to the occupiers, he said there was no trace of the association letter trying to formalise the occupancy of the land.
Ibrahim said that the seven days ultimatum given them to quit was not the first time they have been told to move out of the facility saying they are only looking for excuse to remain on the land.
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