Logistics companies in Lagos on three-day strike to protest touts harassment
Some courier and logistics companies in Lagos State are closing shops for three days to protest spiking rates of harassment of their riders by policemen and touts.
An official of Courier Services Association of Lagos (COSAL) told The Guardian on Monday that touts, allegedly working for local governments in the state, are frustrating their operations.
“[The] voluntary withdrawal of our services for three days – Monday to Wednesday – this week is a sign of concern over extortionist agents on the roads, including [local government] councils, VIS, MOT,” the official said.
“We are ready to pay whatever legitimate fees due to the state and Local Government to operate our businesses in Lagos State. We just don’t want harassment from touts for no just cause because they impound our bikes daily and demand payments for documents we already have.”
Some of the operators who spoke to The Guardian over the weekend indicted local government officials of extorting them. A few of the operators singled out Ikorodu Local Government for blame.
“Ikorodu Local Government alone has three papers that you need to pay for,” an operator who pleaded anonymity said. “None of these is in the guidelines given by the state government.”
In a trending video sent to our correspondent, a courier was accosted with his motorcycle at Mushin area of Lagos while he was going to deliver goods to customers.
The tout seen in the video insisted that unless N5,000 is paid to him, the courier will not be allowed to leave the location.
“Do you know that what you’re doing is absolutely illegal,” a lady who runs the logistics company whose courier was accosted said in the video. “He asked for a paper and we gave it to him, now, he said the bike will not move except we give him N5,000.”
Adetoke Ogunranti, a multimedia journalist, started her small logistics company in March with four motorcycles. She aimed to have another source of income. Three months later, Ogunranti was forced to sell off two of the four bikes.
“Police, local government officials and NIPOST are taxing out of business,” Ogunranti said on Friday evening. “There was a month I paid ₦23,000 to extortionist policemen.”
Mercy Makinde, the chief executive officer of Amazon Delivery, which started operations in May 2020 is not left out of the multiple taxations facing the survival of her logistics business.
“This extortion from Local Government and constant harassment from thugs or touts are way too much,” Makinde said. “Every local government has its own papers. Ikorodu alone has three papers. Yet all you really need to operate a dispatch company in Lagos is a letter of clearance from the Ministry of Transport after your Nigerian Postal Services license.”
We are unaware of tout extortion – Ministry of Transportation
Speaking with our correspondent, spokesperson to the Lagos State Ministry of Transportation, Bolanle Ogunlola said the government is not aware of touts harassing logistics companies.
Asked what is being done by the government to ensure the security of logistic companies in the face of touts, she questioned “Which touts are you referring to ? are they, government officials?
“Now that you are bringing it to our awareness, we’ll look into it because they are not supposed to be disturbed their operations once they comply in terms of guidelines and registration.
“I am not aware that they disturb the activities of dispatch riders. I’m just hearing this for the first time.”
She said the government will use its enforcement officers to rid the touts from the road.
According to Schedule 1, Section 326 Sub-Section 15 (1,2,3) of the Transport Sector Reform Law, 2018, every logistics company operator must obtain a NIPOST Approval, Plate Number, Allocation of Plate Number Form, Proof of ownership, Pre-Registration, Inspection Certificate, Roadworthiness Certificate, Insurance Policy (Comprehensive), Vehicle License, Hackney Permit/Stage Carriage, Approval to operate mail distribution and courier services from the State and LASAA Branding Permit.
“The Commissioner (of transportation) may by order suspend, cancel or revoke an Operator’s License where the holder has failed to comply with any of the provisions of these Regulations:
“Provided that no Order shall be made under this sub-regulation unless the Operator concerned has been given a reasonable opportunity of being heard.
“The Vehicle Inspection Service (VIS), the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) and other Law enforcement Agencies shall ensure that the conditions/specifications set out in these Regulations are met and enforced in line with Section 68, Schedule 1, Section 326 as well as VIS and LASTMA Offences and Penalties stipulated in the Law.”