APAPA GRIDLCOK: Truckers Express Anxiety As Traffic  Returns, Allege Extortion  Still Thrives    

Stakeholders in the road haulage business have raised alarm that the dreaded vehicular traffic into and out of Apapa is back, that is about one month after the Presidential task team concluded its assignment to clear the two approaches to the ports.

Truckers under the auspices of Council of Maritime Truck Unions and Associations (COMTUA) have expressed anxiety over the return of traffic madness in the axis even as they blamed terminal operators for not being able to receive their empty containers. The group also alleged extortion of truckers by agencies of government.

Shipping Position Daily recall that the Presidency had created a Task Team that was charged with the responsibility of restoring sanity to  the two roads leading to Lagos ports.

But, assessing the performance of the task team, weeks after they left, Head of Operations, COMTUA, Alhaji Abdullahi Inuwa, told our correspondent that inability of some terminal operators to receive their empty containers on time is one of the reason the traffic gridlock has returned.

“Talking about the traffic gridlock, I would say it is because for some time now, some terminals have not been able to receive their empty containers, they had some issues receiving their empties. But they have started receiving their empties like three days ago and that has reduced the issue of the gridlock on the roads”

“The second reason is because of the ongoing road reconstruction going on there; some of the areas where those trucks would have passed to assess the ports are blocked. There was also a tanker that broke down on the road last week which took some days before it was removed”

Speaking on the extortion, Inuwa blamed the menace on  some “unscrupulous elements” that will stop at nothing to ensure that they extort.

“On the issue of the extortion, you will agree with me that there are some unscrupulous elements that are taking advantage of what is happening there and would stop at nothing to ensure that they continue benefiting where they didn’t sow”, he lamented.

Meanwhile, some truck drivers have lamented that despite the effort of the defunct presidential task team on addressing the traffic challenges, it still persists.

One of the drivers who gave his name as Mr. Obinna Akanu told our correspondent at Berger Yard that he had spent over two days between Mile 2 to Berger Yard.

He also said that sometimes trucker spend one week or more before they can be able to assess the ports to return their empty containers. 

Explaining his plight, he said: “I have been on this particular place for more than two days now and since that time we have not gone anywhere. Sometimes we spend up to one week here and if we leave here, they will ask us to go to the new garage at Tin Can 2nd gate”

“At Tin Can, nobody controls the traffic and we are asked to pay at least N1, 000 each truck driver, they say the money is for the task force. And if you don’t  pay they will not allow you to leave the park. Some truck drivers argue with them, I am carrying empty container to return to Cosco shipping” he concluded.

Also speaking another driver, Akpa Oko said he had already spent four days between Mile 2 and Trinity bus stop, because he failed to part with a bribe of at least N50,000 before he can be allowed to drive against the traffic.

“This is the fourth day I have been on this particular road, if you are ready to part with at least N50,000 to the task force team, you will move easily and if you don’t have such money you will remain here for long”.