The representative of the ES of the NSC, Chief Cajetan Agu right and in white attire at the meeting.
Story by Dili Utomi.
The issue of the problem of the implementation of the e-call up system as embedded in the ETO application for the management of traffic around the Port areas, the alleged harassment by Lagos State Traffic Management Agency officials, the excessive charges on offences committed by truckers as imposed by government officials and extortion by different security agencies are some of the complaints tabled with the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) and form the focal points of the discussion between the NSC, the Committee of Maritime Transport Unions and Associations (COMTUA), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Lagos State Traffic Management Agency (LASTMA) and the Lagos State Task Force on Abandoned Vehicles at the board room of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council today in order to listen to the different sides of the story.
The Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council was represented at the meeting by the director, consumer affairs department, Chief Cajetan Agu. The representative of COMTUA, Comrade Godwin Ikeji said that there was a lot of optimism at the introduction of technology in the form of the ETO driven call up system, but that regrettably it has turned out to be a mere mirage, he spoke passionately about the ordeals of their members who were on several occasions tricked to come down from their vehicles by LASTMA officials and then have their vehicles impounded, he also spoke about the Rescue Trucks that have been hired by the same agencies of government and said that they make their members go through harrowing experiences. The National Organising Secretary of the Association, Colin Ekene Dike also added to the point made by his colleague as he said that the menace of area boys add to compound the problems and even the LASTMA officials would not allow you to touch your vehicle whenever your truck has any mechanical problems. He added that the Lagos State Task Force on Abandoned Vehicle have constituted themselves into a law as they issue tickets and collect cash from truckers with reckless abandon. Mr. Dike accused this agency of usually impounding vehicles on trumped up charges and that they do not operate with known procedures and policies. He said that the rates set for payment on the call up system is made arbitrarily and are sometimes determined by the individuals feeling.
Godwin Ikeji left and Colin Ekene Dike right both of COMTUA Say the meeting.
Mr. Dike said that each truck pays an average of Seventy to One Hundred Thousand Naira (#100,000.00) from Mile 2 to Tin Can Island Island gate before access us given into the Tin Can Port as demanded by the so-called camp boys (proxies) of the security agencies. He said that the roads to the Ports are manned by state actors and non-state actors . He specifically said that on the 3rd of December 2021, tear gas and live bullets were shot at members by the men of the Lagos State Task Force on Abandoned Vehicle on enforcement duty and that they were led by Honourable Sola Giwa and despite having genuine call ups, the trucks were dispersed, he added that despite Mr. Giwa saying that trucks going to Tin Can Port must pass through the Mile 2-Tin Can road, the Task Force team still allows trucks to illegally pass through Apapa to Tin Can thereby making nonsense of their own rule.
A group photograph of the participants.
Mr. Jamiu Anda Emmanuel, the representative of the Tin Can Island Port Manager, Mr. Jubril Buba said that it is true that they have a lot of these illegal toll gates and the presence of the non-state actors along the Ibafo-first gate-second gate corridors and that they have had to manually process the trucks before entry into the Tin Can Port. Mr. Jamiu puts the blame of the inefficiencies at the Ports on everybody operating along the corridor- government agencies and private operators alike. He described the situation around the Port area as very ugly. He recommends that all non-state actors should be flushed out.
Mr. Olayinka Olawale, an assistant director at the Lagos State Ministry of Transportation in his contribution declared that the Abandoned Committee has so many duties to perform, but that when people through traffic radios and other channels call for the clearing of traffic in and around Apapa, they usually swing into action. He said that they have units that listen to complaints from the public and stressed that anybody who has his vehicle impounded should ask for tickets. He also asked people who are in the process of being exploited to tender their complaints at the appropriate unit of the agency, he encouraged the truckers to always have video evidence of the situation while being confronted or arrested by any government official. He declared that they are working on modalities to ensure that every vehicle coming into Lagos is road worthy. He said that a lot of the transport owners should have their town towing trucks in order to avoid having their vehicles being towed away by government officials.
At the end of the meeting, the representative of the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’Council, Chief Agu advised as part of the resolutions that one, call ups should be based in needs, that truckers should learn not to drive on the wrong sides of the roads, that they will continue the consultation with the NPA on dismantling of road blocks and have free flow of traffic, that truckers should shun giving bribes and stop negotiating with corrupt government agents and learn how to say no to extortion, they should call LASTMA officials whenever they have a truck breakdown to avoid fines tickets and fines, but get tickets only. He concluded by saying that truckers should also report corrupt agents to the government agency responsible for such things.
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