Pastor Sylvester Keshinro, coordinator of TIPTO.
By Dili Utomi.
ALLEGED EXTORTION, TRANSPORT OPERATORS PROTEST.
The Tin Can Island Port Transport Operators (TIPTO), an amalgamation of various transport unions within the Tin Can Island Port corridor has vehemently cried out over some allegations of extortion and inflation of mutually agreed charges for the access into the port area.
The pressure group which has been on various forms of appeal this afternoon called out all its members on a peaceful protest from the Abuja truck garage through the PTML terminal to the TICT terminal all in the Tin Can Island Port area.
The coordinator of the group, Pastor Sylvester Keshinro in an interview with our correspondent said that they are out today to protest the fraudulent processes of the electronic call up system noting that, they have been asked to go to holding bays by the Nigerian Ports Authority, but that they are almost non-existent and the few available ones like the one at Abule Oshun charges as much as one hundred and eighty thousand naira per container. He stated that at the Port and Cargo terminal, it costs between seventy thousand naira for a twenty foot container and one hundred and eighty thousand naira for a forty foot container to be dropped off there. He also noted that after collecting call up documents with your terminal delivery order (TDO), you are sometimes turned back after paying as much as seventy thousand naira for pass at each point of the various illegal points. Mr. Keshinro also lamented the indiscriminate towing of their vehicles by the officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Agency from the entrance of their garage and urged the Nigerian Ports Authority to go to the roads and see what is going on. He appealed to the NPA to make sure that all the illegal toll gates by security agents are dismantled and ensure that the process is properly run, he also asked that truck parks with amenities be provided for truckers as the ones initially allocated to them like the Abuja park have been concessioned to private hands thereby dislodging the truck operators.
The protesters were met on the way by some members of the Nigerian Port Process Manual task team who carefully listened to their grievances and then enumerated the new process being put in place to check some of the issues being raised by the group. The task team is made up of members from the Nigeria Shippers Council, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission and they said that their jobs could be made easier with the cooperation of all stakeholders.
Godwin Ikeji, member TIPTO.
Another operator, Godwin Ikeji also stated that the business owners support the call up system, but the selection of the garages to benefit from the system is discriminatory and skewed towards some known people. He opined that the system is becoming more expensive than anticipated, thereby causing spikes in goods. He noted that officially it should cost only about ten thousand naira to procure the call up documents, but it costs way more now. He also lamented the existence of various illegal toll points and urged the Nigerian Ports Authority to look into the problems.
Ikechukwu Ogbuife, member TIPTO.
On his point Mr. Ikechukwu Ogbuife stated that they are gathered to register their grievances on the execution of the call up system as they are charged seventeen thousand naira everyday if they are unable to deposit their container after registering on the Eto application for the call up.
Adeyinka Awoyewu, COMTUA NPS.
Mr. Adeyinka Awoyewu, the national publicity secretary of the Committee of maritime truck unions and associations (COMTUA) noted that the purposes of the protest is to guard against extortion and illegality and that he is one hundred percent for policies and programmes to be properly executed, he advocates for government to include members of the various transport unions to be involved right from the policy initiation stage to implementation in order to remove unnecessary bottlenecks.