The outcry by truck drivers over the financial extortion they face on the port access roads daily has become a source of worry for stakeholders as the situation continues unabated.
An investigation carried out by maritime journalists reveal that that on every trip to the port, a truck driver parts with as much as N180, 000 to gain access.
It was also gathered that principal agents and sub-agents are now engaged to procure tags for drivers that want to jump the queue to access the port within the shortest possible time.
These tags, according to the drivers, are purchased for between N14, 000 and N18, 000 for the driver to get clearance from Mile 2 to Trinity. It was also observed that part of the game plan is to use uniformed soldiers to create access for these drivers with tags.
The investigation also revealed that from the Mile-2 end of the road, there are eight points of payment before a truck gets to Coconut Bus stop. A breakdown of the payment showed that on top of the Mile-2 Bridge on the service lane, N10, 000 is paid to a team of security operatives that includes the Police, Soldiers, Union officials and some officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA.
At Otto-Wharf Bus-Stop, a sum of N4, 000 is paid to a group of hoodlums without any uniform, while N15, 000 is also paid to another set of security operatives at UBA Bank junction.
Another N5, 000 is paid at the next bus stop after UBA Bank junction and at the Rapid Response Squad Canopy shortly before MTN Building at Berger Suya, another payment of N10, 000 is also made to another set of security operatives.
At another stop in front of MTN office, N5, 000 exchanges hands and N5, 000 at Sunrise Bus-Stop while N90, 000 is finally paid on top of the Bridge at Sunrise Bus Stop leading to Brawal Terminal bringing to N144, 000 total amount of monies paid before truck drivers can access the ports to either pick up or drop containers.
From Tin-Can Truck Park to Eleganza, N1, 000 is paid to the Police at Area ‘B’, then N3, 000 at the check point at Barracks Bus Stop, N1, 000 at Local Government Council, N10, 000 at Trebor Bus Stop and N5, 000 at Eleganza Bus Stop.
It was also gathered that coming into the ports from Ijora is cheaper than coming through Mile-2 as payment points from Tin-Can Truck Park starts from Ijora Olopa with N10, 000 and N2, 000 at 7-Up Bus-Stop.
Total Filling Station check point attracts a payment of N10, 000, while drivers have to pay another N10, 000 at Area ‘B’ Police Station, and another N10, 000 is paid to another set of security operatives at Barracks while the last point before entering the ports attracts N40, 000 and this point is manned by officials of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA.
Reacting to the development, , the President of the National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), Innua Mohammed, said that his group is not involved in the illegal collections, but stated that the target was usually tankers, otherwise called wet cargo.
Inuwa explained that these payments are made by drivers that want to jump the queue, adding that if a driver comes in normally and takes his turn to access the port, he does not have to pay anything.
Explaining further, the NARTO boss also said that his group was working on re-structuring the Council of Maritime Truck Unions and Associations (COMTUA), noting that the moment that was done, the traffic situation will be better managed.
“The Unions are not involved in the collection or payment of these monies. We are trying to re-structure the Council of Maritime Truck Unions and Associations and once that is done, traffic will be better managed as each union will have to approve the release of these trucks before they are allowed to move.
With the kind of arrangement we have in place, if you come genuinely, you do not need to pay anything; but if you try to jump the queue, you will have to pay your way through and most times, these are done at night.”