The President of COMTUA, Adeyinka Aroyewun at the press briefing.
Story by Dili Utomi.
The problems associated with trying to make a living presently in the country with particular reference to the Maritime sector as it concerns those who convey cargoes on the land were highlighted at a press briefing organised today by the Council of Maritime Transport Unions and Associations popularly known as COMTUA. The event took place at a hotel in Kirikiri Lagos as the president of the umbrella body for trucks, Mr. Adeyinka Aroyewun addressed the press.
Mr. Aroyewun in his press statement complained about the activities of the Lagos State Traffic Management Agency (LASTMA). He said that “We hardly need to restate here the pains that motorists of all hues go through in the hands of LASTMA officers whose culture of extortion has been rampant and is now bordering on gross impunity. This category of road managers have become so emboldened by the blind eyes that the Lagos State government usually take in handling all public complaints labeled against them, such that they had become uncontrollable in the indiscretions they exercise while performing some basic official duties”. Mr. Aroyewun added that
“It is a known fact, that ordinary civil cases involving drivers, such as parking by the roadside to re-fix a depleted tyre always results into arrest, towing and detention of such vehicles and a punitive fine of not less than one hundred thousand Naira (N100,000=). These extortionist charges are being cruelly imposed without any consideration for the affected vehicles’ weight, size or even the distance from the scene of arrest to their head office. This type of sharp practices solely designed for self-enrichment should not be allowed to continue unabated in our dear Lagos State”.
Board members of the COMTUA at the briefing.
Similarly, he continued “COMTUA wishes to reaffirm that, we feel morally compelled and duty bound to report to you that contrary to the hordes of denials and promises by the Lagos State government, the menace of extortions and other unwholesome practices being perpetrated by some notorious state and non-state actors, are still ongoing in many parts of our busy Ports. Sadly, it would appear that our persistent appeals and calls for prompt government intervention to arrest this drift have been treated with reckless abandon. The allegation of multiple taxation on the part of state actors, Wharf Landing Authority, Local government councils is condemnable.
The cost of diesel and spare parts is on the increase. We need government intervention and support”.
A group photograph of members after the briefing.
Though, these weighty allegations were laid against some of the known government agencies as regards the issues of extortion and acts of impunity, the COMTUA president lauded the Nigerian Ports Authority for the proposed unbundling of the eto application platform developed for controlling traffic around the ports corridor as he emphasised that COMTUA has developed its own application at the verge of implementation. He said of the new initiative “It is on record that as part of our collective efforts to rid our strategic maritime sector of these social tumors, we already had developed an alternative computerised application which is robust in scope and backed by a demonstrable effectiveness that is second to none in the business”.
At the question and answer session of the briefing, the president said that the workability of the newly developed platform has been tested and that it is ready to be deployed. He also added that all manner of complaints have been lodged about the various extortion points that prevail along the ports corridors, but that the authorities do not pay attention to all the complaints. He said that he and his members are happy to hear the managing director of the Nigerian Ports Authority coming out to say that there in no going back on the unbundling of the eto application promising that in the next two months, their own version of the traffic control software application would be launched. He further decried the loss of over One Billion Naira through the eto software application by truckers.
On his part, the financial secretary of the association , Yakub Kolawole Azeez decried the multiplicity of wharf landing fees collection by the numerous local government areas along the ports corridors as he asks the government to listen to their complaints. He laments that some motorcycle owners are now doing better in terms of revenue generation than they the truck operators.
A member, board of trustees of the association, Mr. Isiaka Olalere also spoke about their difficulties while doing their job as he said that there over forty points of extortion within a few local government areas around the Port corridor and also asks the government to be alive to their responsibilities and implement the no tax collection on the road policy.
On the part of the general secretary, Augustine Erhabor, he says that the government feels so unconcerned about the plights of the truckers. He added that his truck a few days ago paid about thirty six thousand naira at various extortion points before moving the cargo to Ogun state.
Adeyanju Abraham, a member of the BOT said that several petitions have been written to the various government agencies with little assurances, but without much concrete action towards solving the outlined issues, he also called on the authorities to do the needful.
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