Uproar Over Multiplicity Of Extortion Points On Port Access Roads - LEADERSHIP
Extortion points that were, hiterto, dismantled on the port access roads have returned, stalling cargo evacuation. YUSUF BABALOLA examines the effect of extortion on haulage cost.
Extortion of truck drivers has been a recurring decimal on the Lagos ports access roads. At a point, it was tamed by the state and federal government and everyone, especially importers and clearing agents heaved a sigh of relief.
But, the relief, according to recent happening seem to have been short-lived as extortion points have returned with unprecedented force on the Lagos port access roads.
Infact, according to truck owners and drivers, extortion have returned with non-state actors allegedly maiming, killing, injuring and inflicting bodily wounds on truck drivers who refused to part with money at the points.
For instance, last week, the Council of Maritime Truck Unions and Associations (COMTUA), raised an alarm over the activities of members of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN), Park and Garages Committee and Park Administration Committee.
According to the president of the association, Com. Yinka Aroyewun, over 50 extortion points existed from Coconut and Sunrise end of the Apapa-Oshodi expressway where louts and miscreants forcefully extort money from truck drivers.
He, however, alleged that the louts are positioned along port access roads and major highways in Lagos, disturbing the flow of cargoes in and out of the port corridors as well as to importers warehouses.
According to COMTUA, “It is with deep frustration that we highlight about the excruciating torture, daily extortion and destruction of our trucks. Our members, on a daily basis, face extortion, in the hands of louts who are positioned along port access roads and major highways in Lagos.
“To say the least, it is sad to note that this brazen illegality continues in broad day light without any modicum of check. However, in the face of all these nauseating experiences, we have remained law-abiding, instead of resorting to violence, we have made several petitions and official letters to Government (at different levels) bidding to have relevant government authorities call the miscreants to order, all to no avail as all our entreaties have not been attended to.
“Letters of complaint and consultation to Park and Garages Committee, Park Administration Committee and Maritime Workers’ Union (MWUN) on the activities of their members have all fell on deaf ears as non has yielded results. Instead of applying civility, they resorted to most provocative affront as these groups, in connivance with few government agencies, increases dues and extortion points.”
“To be specific, MWUN operates 20 checkpoints from Coconut to Tin-Can Island port second gate where N2,000 is forcefully collected per point from our members. This is under the watch of the MWUN president general, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju, whose main coordinator is Taofeek Shorinola (also known as Sheu Tao). They injure and sometimes kill our members for non-compliance to the extortion. Parks and Garages has Abayomi Abeyi Ajele (also known as Ikomodina); Michael Adewale (also known as Hot water and one Raji, also known as Student mount, as coordinators controling over 30 extortion points between Mile 2 and Sunrise where between N2,000 and N6,000 are forcefully collected from truck drivers at every extortion point.”
COMTUA also raised the alarm that Park Administrator’s louts forcefully extort money from truck drivers around Kirikiri, FATGBEMS, Badagry Express Road and inside Amuwo Odofin.
“Of another serious concern is the involvement of a royal father, who encourages his committee members to create more points of extortion. The role of government is suspectable in this societal vice and this is of grave concern to our association. The claim by these pipes and other weapon-wielding boys should be a cause for concern for this government if they are not in connivance.
“We are deeply troubled as our members are injured and killed by these criminals on daily basis without any concerns from authorities and this is totally unacceptable especially as our members are living in very hard times due to poor return per trip and debts which is given impetus by this ugly state of affair,” Aroyewun stated.
Corroborating Aroyewun, the former president, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr Eugene Nweke, disclosed that serial extortions along the cargo delivery corridor defeats the essence of ease of doing business and fueling inflation in the land.
According to him, the cost of the extortion was already passed to clearing agents and importers who hired the truck drivers, saying for a Customs broker to successfully deliver a container to Alaba International Market or Trade fair, Agbara, he spends between N150, 000 to N250,000 on louts.
The issue of extortion, to concerned well meaning industry stakeholders is the serial extortions along the cargo delivery corridor, which practices defeats the whole essence of ease of doing business and fueling inflation in the land. The burden of the extortion is passed to the Custom brokers and their clients (shippers). As the case may be, it is an operational norm for a trucker to request the Custom brokers to attach an escort to them when delivering a consignment to the port of destination within Lagos, and no longer limited to up country delivery.
“Taking a delivery of a container at Alaba International Market as a case study, truck drivers will pay following unreceipted money as follows; Mile 2 to Sunrise, 30 Points at N2000 making a total of 60,000; Coconut to Tincan, 20 points at N2000 making a total of N40,000:00. From Ijora to Iyana Iba is N45,000 while iyana Iba tuning to Alaba International Market is N70,000,” he lamented.
He also stated that the extortion may go higher, depending on who have control over the touts on a particular day.
“This is what the Custom brokers and their clients encounter for trucking their cargo to the warehouses and most often, it ends in exchange of blows, forceful opening of the Container to temper with the laden content and damage of trucks but, to avoid such, truck drivers pay under pressure.
“The only officially receipted payment is the N5,000 to N10,000 paid to the local government, every other are unreceipted and add to the cost of doing business at the seaports because until cargoes gets to the owners warehouse, it still haven’t completed its cycle,” Nweke lamented.