Few months after the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) converted the Lillypond terminal to a truck transit park, in a move to reduce the traffic gridlock in the approaches to Lagos ports, truck drivers are alleging extortion personnel of some government agencies.
Some of the drivers who spoke with Shipping Position Daily last week at the truck park alleged that they part with at least N5000 per truck to some personnel of the NPA before they can be allowed to access the port.
One of the truck drivers, who gave his names as Abbey, said even though they pay the amount, they still spend longer time before they can be allowed to go into the ports.
“We spend a lot of time here; I have been here for more than one month now with no hope of leaving here yet”
He also said that there is no provision for convenience for them at the park, adding that some of them wake up as early as possible to be able to have their bath before the day breaks.
“You will pay a minimum of N5000 before they will prepare paper that will allow you inside the terminal. I have spent up to a month in this place; we bathe and ease ourselves anywhere we find convenient for us here”
“We wake up early to have our bath before people start coming out. Some of us, like my motor boy and I we sleep in the truck till the next day waiting to be called to the port”, he lamented.
Another driver who doesn’t want his name in print said that the entry paper is mostly prepared by agent suspected to be from NPA, adding that it is after the paper must have been prepared that you would be allowed access into the park.
“The paper is mostly prepared by agent from NPA and it is after the agent must have prepared the truck that you will be allowed inside. And as far as you have paid the money, you can stay as long as you want and you will pay to NPA”
Also speaking, the Head of Operations of Council of Maritime Truck Unions and Associations (COMTUA); Alhaji Abdullahi Inuwa, said that the extortion is being perpetuated by those unscrupulous elements who were benefiting from the old Navy regime.
Inuwa also added that it will be difficult to rule out extortion from settings like that, even as he stressed that the truck park is meant to regulate truck activities into the ports.
He added that they mostly extort trucks that are coming from outside Lagos.
“On the issue of extorting truckers, you know that before now there are people who have been benefitting from the ugly situation during the navy era and some of them are still hanging around; going from one place to the other, more especially the trucks that are coming from outside Lagos with the guise that they want to assist them. Along the line, some of the fall victims to those people who call themselves truck pushers”
“You know NPA converted this place into a truck park, so that they can warehouse the trucks before they can go in batches into the ports through call up system. So this place is a place meant to regulate the trucks activities into the ports”
Inuwa who is the Dry Cargo section Chairman of the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), said that he is not aware of any money paid to NPA as none of his trucks have complained of such.
“All I know is, if you truck park at the nominated parks and you want to access Lillypond, all you need to do is to apply through the park manager, it is the park manager that will officially request and apply for the movement of the trucks from his part to Lillypond”
“And immediately they reach the NPA management will endorse if there is chance and if there is no chance they will also give you date for you to come. Or they can approve and give you upfront depending when the Lillypond will be decongested”
“I don’t know if they collect money to register with the park manager, my park have been sending trucks through my manager and I have not heard anything about money before. And when they approve it my boy always tell me that they have approved it”, he told our correspondent.
Meanwhile, an attempt to speak with the Head Corporate and Strategic Communication of NPA, Engineer Adams Jatto failed as he never picked his calls or replied to text messages sent to him as at the time of filling this report.