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Anxiety as truck owners protest NPA’s seven-day eviction notice to vacate facility at KLT

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Truck owners protesting against Nigerian Ports Authority’s (NPA) seven-day eviction notice to vacate a holding bay at Kirikiri Lighter Terminal (KLT), Lagos yesterday…

• Threaten court action
• NPA says truckers are illegally occupying facility

Truck owners and members of the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN), Kirikiri Lighter Terminal (KLT) Phase 1, yesterday embarked on a peaceful protest over a seven-day eviction notice by the management of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to vacate a holding bay.

The holding bay has the capacity to accommodate 100 trucks and has been under the care of the association for close to two decades, they said.

The facility, it was gathered, belongs to the management of the NPA, but was handed over to the association due to the congestion that occurred at KLT some years back to help decongest the terminal.

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The quit notice from NPA, made available to The Guardian, reads, “All trespassers of this land are hereby given a seven-day notice from 27th January, 2021 to quit with their possessions. Defaulters will be prosecuted and properties found will be confiscated,” order by NPA management.

But reacting to the development, members of the association explained that the facility had been given to them by the management of the NPA for over decade.

Speaking at the protest, the chairman of the association, Comrade Peter Eze, expressed disappointment on the sudden U-turn by the management of the NPA over the facility, saying letters were written to develop the holding bay as proposed in the master plan.

Eze reiterated that former officials of the NPA had given the association the assurance of sustaining the facility, adding the sudden eviction notice came as a surprise to members of the association.

The chapter chairman, who frowned at the management of NPA actions, disclosed that the short notice for truckers to vacate the holding bay without proper consultation with members did not go down to well with the operators and might likely seek court injunction if not properly managed by the authority.

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He expressed high hope of sustaining the complex, pointing out that the association had a robust working relationship with management of NPA for over two decades.

“The word trespass is what I am not comfortable with, because we have spent millions of naira to develop this facility and I don’t think it is not proper for NPA to carry out such actions,” he lamented.

Also speaking, coordinator of the protest and former Secretary RTEAN KLT Phase 1 Chapel, Comrade Godwin Ikeji, bemoaned that despite severalletters written to the management of NPA for the association to maintain andupgrade the facility, they chose to evict the truckers from the facility.

Ikeji maintained that there must have been some fowl play along the line for highest bidder to take possession of the facility. According to him, the outcome of the meeting today would further determine the actions of the association.

“We spent millions of naira to develop this facility. At least, on a monthly basis. We told the management back then that whatever it would take for us to sustain this facility should be formalised because we have spent money so far to upgrade the place.

“All our appeals all these years despite our letters have received deaf ears from the management of NPA,” Ikeji stated.

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When The Guardian contacted, the Assistant General Manager, Strategic and Corporate Communication, NPA, Mr. Ibrahim Nasiru, said the truck owners were occupying the facility illegally, a reason NPA gave them the quit notice.

When asked why the action was taken now despite the number of years the truckers occupied the facility, Nasiru said the NPA had just realised that it needed places to generate revenue for the government, and decongest port areas to reduce traffic congestion, saying, “It is not business as usual.”

“NPA has the right to ask them to vacate that facility because it is not their property. It is the property of NPA. We have to take action by giving them a quit notice because they are occupying the facility illegally,” he said.

Nasiru debunked the claim that the truck drivers spent millions of naira to develop the facility, noting that it was a false claim, as nothing of such happened.

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