Truckers operating in the nation’s maritime industry have accused the highly-celebrated Port Standing Task Team (PSTT) of collecting a share of bribes collected from truck owners.
Recall that the PSTT, which is made up of officers of the ICPC, the NSC, the NPA and the Directorate of State Services (DSS), was charged with the primary duty of reducing corruption in the ports and ensuring that standard operating procedures were followed in carrying out transactions in the ports.
The team among other functions was enjoined to dismantle the corruption network that has been aiding traffic logjam within the port axis.
However, speaking at the sideline of the Maritime Anti-Corruption Network (MACN) and the Convention on Business Integrity (CBI) Port Users conference, which held in Lagos last week, the President of the Committee of Maritime Truck Unions and Associations (COMTUA); Mr Adeyinka Aroyewun, accused the PSTT of collecting kickbacks.
This is even as he said the performance of the task team is being over-exaggerated describing the recorded performances of the PSTT as lies.
Aroyewun noted that though he is not privy to ascertain the performance of the PSTT in the ports, he however said along the port corridor, he can only score the team 15%.
He pointedly accused the PSTT of being an active participant in corruption at the ports.
Speaking directly to the task team activities, he said: “You know many of us are not privy to the operations of the PSTT on the seaside, so I won’t be able to evaluate how far they have gone, but that which I know so well is that of the road, if PSTT is about removing extortion, the illegality on the road, then we can only score them maybe 15%.
“You want to remove extortion and bottlenecks from the road, how far have you been able to achieve this, there are two extortion practitioners at the port, the state operators and non-state operators, the Police, the Customs, the LASTMA, the FRSC those are states, the non-state actors are the area boys, the unions. Which of them is no longer on that road, can you just tell me who is no longer on the road? he asked
“The Police still have all their checkpoints, the same number of checkpoints; nothing has changed the area boys are there, the only one you have been able to remove is not total removal, but a change of location. If you say you have removed certain numbers of checkpoints at the port, you have not really done anything because what we have now is just a change of checkpoints or extortion points.
Specifically, he added that, “They were in Area ‘B’ before, but now at Ijora; they were initially at ‘Otor Wharf’, but now at Ijesha doing the same thing.
“As a matter of fact, it’s not like I’m sounding as an opposition to PSTT, our association (COMTUA) was a member of PSTT, we wrote to excuse ourselves from that body”.
“We were initially happy that they were coming on board, at least to solve our problems, but in one week of operation, we realized that we are the victim and if anybody is extorting us the only thing you do is to chase them away from that point to another point. But in our own case, a vehicle that is broken down, a vehicle that ran out of gas, or a vehicle has a tyre issue which is a traffic matter that is being handled by LASTMA, or by FRSC or by the Police, the PSTT will still handle the same matter, tow the vehicle to a destination where they will not extort us directly. They will take us to a point where we will pay N10,000 per day for storage, PSTT will claim they are not collecting any money, but you kept something somewhere where this person will collect N10,000 and you refuse to attend to the matter in one week allowing that person to make N70,000 from my truck; you cannot convince me you are not getting a kickback, then why did you choose that parking point, how did you negotiate that penalty” he questioned.
However, defending the performance of the PSTT, the National Coordinator PSTT, Mr Moses, Fadipe posited that in the last 18 months of its operations, the PSTT has become arguably the single most impactful initiative of the administration’s drive in the Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria.
He said the PSTT has helped improve transparency, efficiency, effectiveness and predictability in port operations in Nigeria, and has well improved the level of compliance by terminals operators, shipping companies, importers, exporters, freight forwarders and government agencies.
He added that multiple check points of various government agencies and non-state actors from Apapa port gate up to Ijora bridge, a distance of less than 3km after the terminal release of cargo, which contributes to traffic gridlock along the port corridor, have been dismantled while the exercise is ongoing along Tin Can axis.
He informed that over 150 trucks have been arrested and made to adhere to various compliance provisions through the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC)
Fadipe further defended that with the help of the PSTT, there has been a reduction in the number of extortion and checkpoints along the port corridors, informing that from 70 to near-zero, except occasional pin down by both government and non-state actors.
Kindly like us on Facebook/twitter