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Importers decry extortion, illegal interception of vehicles outside ports corridor

By Adaku Onyenucheya
10 November 2021   |   3:07 am
Ports users have expressed worry over the state of security at the ports as well as corrupt practices, just as they lamented the illegal interception of already cleared cargoes

Touts still having field day at Mile 2 end of the Apapa port road in Lagos.<br />ADAKU ONYENUCHEYA

Security operatives engaging touts to extort already cleared cargoes – stakeholders lament

Ports users have expressed worry over the state of security at the ports as well as corrupt practices, just as they lamented the illegal interception of already cleared cargoes, particularly imported vehicles from the ports.

According to them, despite paying the required fees at the port to clear their cargoes, they also deal with security operatives, who engage touts to intercept cleared vehicles, as they are driven outside the ports to the various destinations, while forcefully demanding bribes, and failure to oblige would result to damages on the vehicles.

Recall that the leadership of the Trucks Transit Parks (TTP) Limited, had said importers lose over N100 million daily due to extortion along access roads to the ports in Apapa and Tin-Can Island in Lagos

A car dealer, who is also the Chief Executive Officer, Ifeseun and Associate, Ibukun Ifedayo, lamented that for every vehicle cleared from the port, touts collect N1, 000 at almost 15 roadblocks from the port corridors to Oshodi.

He said security operatives engage touts to collect these fees or risk damages to the vehicles’ windshields and other body parts if the driver refuses to pay the money.

“For every car cleared from the port, what these touts collect is N1, 000. From port to let’s say Oshodi before you get there, you must have seen 15 roadblocks and you must pay. The best thing is for you to pay them because the government cannot protect us from these groups of people, even on the major roads.

“For instance, if you are taking a Tokunbo car from Lagos to Akure to deliver to your client, the police and military will collect N500 at each roadblock, they don’t even ask for the vehicle documents, all they ask you is just the money they want to collect and if you don’t give them, they will delay you unnecessarily, not to talk of the touts,” he lamented.

Ifedayo said the implication is the high cost of vehicles, as no importer would want to incur losses after spending so much to get his vehicles to his warehouse.

The National Publicity Secretary of the Association of Registered Freight Forwarders of Nigeria, (ARFFN), Taiwo Fatomilola, lamented that the issue of security operatives using touts to extort importers has become a matter the government has ignored for a long time.

He also accused officials of Lagos State of making business difficult for importers and freight forwarders through the Wharf Landing Fee.

He said each vehicle is mandated to pay N500 before leaving the ports environment, failure of which would attract seizure with a fine of about N500, 000 after days of begging.

He said each day the vehicle spends in their custody attracts rent of between N200 to N500, adding that prolonged delay results in the deflation of tyres.

“The police are stationed there, fully armed and if you don’t give them the money, they will shoot, arrest you or take away your vehicle, by the time they take custody of the vehicle, you cannot do anything. You have no option other than to pay N200, 000 because of N500.

“When you go to their office located at Liverpool, you will see chains of vehicles inside their park and those cars would pay rents every day they spend there, apart from the money you will still part with.

“I have been a victim. My importer was forced to hire a driver at the port to drive his vehicles out, despite having his own driver. He was taking his car to Ikoyi when he was arrested along with Liverpool and he called me. By the time I got there and showed them my identification, we paid N50, 000 after five hours of begging, shouting and threatening. They collected cash and not electronic payment.

“A lot of importers have had their vehicles impounded for the past eight months, one year and two years because they could not afford the money. We are losing so much and we are angry passing through such a situation. A lot of importers have lost their lives, while some have lost their businesses because they can no longer continue due to lack of funds,” he added.

The National President, Africa Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics of Nigeria-APFFLON, Frank Ogunojemite, said issues of security around the ports have been lingering without the government’s intervention.

He warned that, while lives and properties are not safe within the ports corridors, the federal and state governments should develop policies and impose strict laws as well as enforcement, before things get out of control.

MEANWHILE, the founder of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr Boniface Aniebonam, has called on the newly posted Area Commander in Charge of Area B Police Command, Apapa, Umar Dikwa, to address the indiscriminate interception of already cleared cargoes from the ports and the brazen extortion of cargo by police personnel.

Aniebonam, made the call when the Area Commander paid a courtesy visit to the NAGAFF headquarters in Apapa, recently.

He said the role of NAGAFF as an association is to oversee and protect the interest of its members in the course of their business, especially those that are legitimate, adding that the association does not encourage false declaration in cargo clearance.

Responding, the Area Commander assured that the issue would be addressed, adding that freight forwarders should come to him with any complaint that would hinder ease of doing business within the ports environment.

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