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Transport unions threaten to sue NPA over extortion 

By Sulaimon Salau
23 January 2022   |   4:20 am
Transporters, under the aegis of Council of Maritime Transport Unions and Associations (COMTUA), have threatened to institute legal actions against the Nigerian Ports Authority ...

Executive Director, Marine and Operations, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Onari Brown presenting a plaque to the Chairman, Benin City River Port Project, Greg Ogbiefun, an engineer, during a working visit to the management of NPA at the corporate headquarters in Lagos.

Transporters, under the aegis of Council of Maritime Transport Unions and Associations (COMTUA), have threatened to institute legal actions against the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) over extortion and breach of agreement on the electronic call-up system.
 
The group made the threat in a notice issued through its counsel Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa to Managing Director of NPA, titled, “Notice of intention to commence a suit against the NPA pursuant to Section 92 (1) of the NPA Act CAP 126, LFN 2004.”
 
The notice reads in part: “Our client reliably informed us of certain developments and unfair activities in the maritime sector for which countless letters of complaint have been written but serially ignored by your office and other concerned offices such as the office of the Lagos State Government.

 
“Some of the disturbing facts, which were reliably disclosed to us are as follows: That there has been reported cases of discrepancies and misrepresentation of facts and figures emanating from the electronic call up regime (ETO/TTP programme) created by Truck Transit Park Ltd on the instruction and directives of your office, the Nigerian Port Authority. Our client is vehemently disputing the cost and value of the services being rendered by ETO/TTP as there has been cases of extortions and breach of agreement on the part of your office,” the notice stated.
   
According to the notice, it was mutually agreed that the sum of N10, 000 was payable for booking process as entry permit into the terminal but TTP now extorts a whooping sum of N31, 250.
   
The notice informed that contrary to the intent and purpose of TTP, which was meant to eradicate payment checkpoints, there has been proliferation of illegal checkpoints along the terminal routes with attendant extortion of the sum of N5000 per checkpoints.
   
“That despite assurances to the contrary, members of our client now pay an outrageous sums ranging from N50, 000 to N150, 000 to return empty containers at the authorised holding bay. That there have been cases of connivance and abuse of office by the Holding Bay operators and some agencies of the government who would arrest and impound our client’s members’ truck so as to illegally extort money from them.
   
“The continuous harassment and extortion of our client often lead to further arrests and detention of our client’s members by clearing agents on container demurrage. That the initial arrangements that trucks would move from the satellite parks to the pre-gate and then into the terminal within the period of two days has not been realised as trucks take more than weeks to move into the terminal from the satellite parks,” the notice added.
   
The group also alleged that the initial arrangement to install Close-Circuit Television (CCTV) to monitor movement of trucks into the terminal to ensure speedy movement of vehicles and other purposes has not been effected by TTP.
   
“That there has been consistent violation of movement procedures and illegal parking of trucks on the express road by some preferred truck drivers of which modus operandi are antithetical to the aim and purpose of the Electronic Call Up Regime.
   
“That the effort and intervention of the Minister of Transportation in setting up of the Ministerial Steering and Implementation Committee to proffer solutions associated with the ease of doing business at the Apapa/Tincan Island Port has been defeated with attendant cases of greed, extortions, harassment of truck drivers, robberies and total collapse of the accessible road networks.

“That there is an existing Presidential Executive Order vesting economic regulation of the Nigerian Ports in the hands of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council thereby making economic activities of your office illegal.
   
“On the other hand, the involvement and activities of the Lagos State Traffic Management Agency (LASTMA) and the Lagos State Committee on Abandoned and Disused Vehicles headed by the Special Adviser to the Lagos State Government on Transport, mR. Toyin Fayinka is regrettably inimical to the legitimate activities of the truck drivers.

That there have been cases of extortion; creation of illegal garages; indiscriminate and illegal tagging of vehicles as abandoned vehicles; compromise and selective enforcement of the law against perceived enemies and truck drivers are being extorted on a daily basis without issuance of receipts,” the notice stated.

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