By Steve Agbota
Importers, clearing agents and truck owners have expressed concerns over worsening gridlock along the port access road at the Tin Can Island Port Complex (TCIPC), Lagos, accusing officials of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Security Department, Police and the Presidential Task Team on Apapa gridlock, who were deployed to manage traffic in the area, of massive extortion. The stakeholders said in addition to the poor condition of the port access roads, extortion by security and traffic control officials remain the major cause of the unending gridlock along the Apapa-Oshodi expressway.
Recent reports have exposed a well-organised racket of security officials at the Tin Can Island Port Complex, who extort between N70,000 and N200,000 per truck before such trucks are allowed into the port.
Some truck drivers who expressed deep frustration over the development on Wednesday, specifically accused officials of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Security Department, Police and the Presidential Task Team on Apapa gridlock of demanding huge sums of money as bribes from them before their trucks are granted access into the port.
The situation, it was gathered, has negatively affected port operation as cargo delivery has been considerably slowed down. It has also led to a sudden rise in haulage and shipping cost, thereby fuelling inflation in the country.
A truck owner and an executive member of the Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO), Sanni Bala, said that the security agents including the Presidential Task Team on Apapa gridlock demand huge sums of money ranging from N70,000 to N200,000 depending on the “bargaining power” of the truck driver in order to be allowed into the port.
He said: “The issue of unlawful extortion by NPA security officials, police and the Presidential Task Team along Apapa and Tin Can Port road axis has become a daily occurrence and an institutionalised phenomenon that is taking a serious toll on the income of truck owners and exacerbating the plight of motorists on that axis.