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Investors shun Nigerian ports due to multiple checkpoints, extortion

By Adaku Onyenucheya
27 July 2022   |   2:42 am
There are indications that multiple checkpoints and extortion of truckers are pushing importers and other investors to neighbouring countries’ ports, thereby depriving Nigeria of the opportunity to earn income.

[FILES] Trucks parked along Apapa port road

There are indications that multiple checkpoints and extortion of truckers are pushing importers and other investors to neighbouring countries’ ports, thereby depriving Nigeria of the opportunity to earn income.

The Chairman of the Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO), Remi Ogungbemi, stated this at a stakeholders meeting organised by the Maritime Anti-Corruption Network (MACN) in conjunction with the Convention of Business Integrity (CBI), with the theme: ‘Addressing the Corruption Issues at Nigeria’s Port Corridor,’ held in Lagos.

Ogungbemi, in his paper titled: “The Implication of Multiple Checkpoints in the Logistics Value Chain,” said the high cost of doing business arising from multiple extortions of truckers in the port environment is discouraging foreign investors from doing business in Nigeria.

He said multiple checkpoints along the port corridors have also led to financial loss/bankruptcy on the part of importers and truckers, arising from the diversion of containers/cargo and trucks.

He said there is also an increase in prices of imported commodities arising from unauthorised payments at multiple checkpoints and extortion along the ports corridor.

“Artificial barriers along port corridors discourage the growth of local industries that cannot cope with a high cost of importing and exporting goods out of the country due to outrageous extortions at illegal checkpoints in the ports corridors,” he said.

According to him, over 30 illegal checkpoints exist within Apapa and Tin-Can Island ports corridors, where truckers are compelled to pay between N50, 000 and N60, 000 per trip to access the port, despite having valid electronic call-up tickets.

He said trucks are being damaged, while truckers are intimidated, harassed, extorted and unnecessarily turned back or delayed from accessing the ports by uniformed traffic controllers, security agencies, transport unions and hoodlums at checkpoints.

Ogungbemi multiple checkpoints slow down the movement of trucks carrying goods out of the ports, thereby allowing burglars to climb slow-moving trucks to burgle and steal goods from containers/ cargo or hijack both truck and container/cargo from drivers.

Meanwhile, the Committee of Maritime Truck Union and Association (COMTUA), has accused the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), shipping companies and other state actors of double standards.

The President of COMTUA, Adeyinka Aroyewun, alleged that foreign truck owners are given preferential treatment above indigenous truck owners by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), shipping companies, traffic agencies and other state actors in the country.

Aroyewun stated that officials of the NCS do not stop trucks owned by foreign companies, as against indigenous truck owners who are made to stop at each customs checkpoint.

Aroyewun further lamented that many indigenous truck owners are no longer in business owing to foreigners taking over their jobs.

He said despite foreigners taking over their jobs, indigenous truckers have always been victims of government policies and enforcement agencies.

Aroyewun recommended interim and permanent solutions to address corruption around the port corridors.

He said there should be deliberate expansion and de-centralisation of the port system, as well as encouragement for continuous development of bonded and lighter terminals among others to distribute traffic, use of rail in the evacuation of cargo and modern technology.

On his part, the Chief Executive Officer, CBI, Mr. Soji Apampa, advised truck owners to form an alliance in the fight against extortion and other forms of corrupt practices by different security agencies in the port corridor.

Apampa enlightened the truck owners on the need to come up with facts, figures and verifiable data to help them fight the menace in the industry.

Apampa also disclosed that a committee of government agencies, all the truck unions and associations, security outfits and other relevant agencies would be involved to tackle the issue.

He added that the only way to achieve success is to have a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on what state and non-state actors are supposed to do to authenticate their demands.