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How security operatives sabotage e-call up, extort N175m from truck drivers daily

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Investigations have shown that security operatives extort about N175 million daily from truck drivers at the various illegal toll points mounted along with the Lagos ports, access roads in an attempt to frustrate the operational efficiency of the electronic call-up system.

Truck owners and drivers told The Guardian that a minimum of between N70, 000 and N80, 000 are given to the security operatives at the various toll points before they can be allowed to gain access to the ports on a daily basis, despite having the Eto tickets and showing it as evidence of being called to the ports.

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Chairman, Logistics Practitioners Association of Nigeria, Godwin Ikeji, lamented that truckers pay no less than N70, 000 to N80, 000 and more at every road block, depending on the ability to bargain, in order to access the ports.

He said: "We pay nothing less than N70, 000 to N80, 000 and more at the different check points. If trucks are coming from Mile 2, we have to pay off the security operatives at the first road block at Fagbems, then we move to another roadblock on top of the Mile 2 bridge, and then another at Wharf. We have the mother of all the roadblocks at Sunrise, then we move to Coconut bridge. We also have another road block at the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) gate. We have to pay at all the check points before we access the port and this is very annoying. Imagine how much a trucker pays before gaining access to the port."

He said truckers were being forced to pay the extortionists despite having the Eto tickets, noting that the multiple roadblocks are constraints to the e-call up system as well as access into the ports.

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The Deputy National President, Air Logistics, National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr Segun Musa, said the involvement of security operatives has always been an issue to the e-call up system.

He said the security operatives are frustrating truck owners and are now controlling the highest number of haulages in the port corridors, as some of them own trucks, while they make hundreds of millions on a daily basis.

"We don't need to have security operatives at the port corridors, it should be that when a truck that is not called up approaches the port corridor, even if there are a thousand trucks, they should all be turned back. The law is already there along with the holistic measures to be carried out on the defaulters," he said.

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The Vice-Chairman of the National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) Dry Cargo Section, Abdullahi Inuwa, said the security operatives have over 30 road blocks where they extort truckers.

He said there is no fixed amount collected by the extortionists, as truckers have to pay depending on bargaining power, even when the trucks would not be allowed to access the port.

He said since the commencement of the e-call up system, the fraudulent activities of the security operatives have increased, forcing him to park his trucks.

Inuwa said: "My trucks only go for two trips and then I park them because of the numerous road blocks, especially at the Tin Can access road”.

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The situation has become a nightmare for trucks exiting from Sunrise to Berger outward Mile 2."

He also lamented that the bad roads and slow construction work contribute to the gridlock as trucks carrying containers fall on a daily basis.

Meanwhile, a source from the NPA who craved anonymity disclosed that about 2,500 trucks access Apapa and Tin Can Island ports on a daily basis.

The source told The Guardian that about 1,300 trucks access the Tin Can Island Port, which is bigger in terms of traffic flow, while about 1,100 to 1,200 trucks access Apapa port daily.

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Last week, the Acting Managing Director of NPA, Muhammed Bello-Koko had expressed concerns that there are more than 30 extortion "toll points" set up around Apapa and Tin Can Island Ports by security agents extorting truck drivers that seek access in and out of the ports.

Bello-Koko stated that the NPA has been inundated with complaints of extortions from truckers, especially by the Army, Nigerian Navy, Police and NPA Security, demanding money from truck drivers before accessing the ports.

He, however, described the ugly practice as a major disincentive to the smooth implementation of the truck electronic call-up system.

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