It is unbelievable, but it is real, container-laden truck drivers on Lagos roads might not be faring any better in their daily life as they struggle to return their empty containers to the Tin Can Island Ports or the Port of Lagos Apapa Quay, commonly called “Apapa Wharf” in Lagos.
The truck drivers said that they have done everything humanly possible to ensure that they do not stay on the road for too long, but their efforts seem to be in vain as accessing the ports had become a herculean task.
“We have complained, we have made noise, we have also organised protests, but every effort seems to have fallen on deaf ears, as the situation have become worse, than we expected,” they said.
They told Sunday Sun that they had expressed disdain for the situation they found themselves, but the quest for survival have forced them to remain on the road and to seek a way of surviving in the midst of the crisis.
A truck owner who was identified as Silas Majekodunmi told Sunday Sun that ordinarily returning containers to the port should not be a big deal, if the roads are passable and there are no bottlenecks, “but you can see truck drivers struggling for months to return the empty containers and by this they stay on the road perpetually trying to access the port.”
Keeping body and soul together while they wait for the gridlock to move, the truck drivers sleep and wake up on the road, they feed on junks and drinks whatever that is made available for them to buy.
From waters, which they said they do not know how they are got, to drinks of all shades which they said they take to prevent diseases and also stay alive while on the road.
The women who sale what they called Agbo Jedi (medicine for the elimination of excess sugar) have made it their daily routine to come to the drivers to market their wares and also convince them to buy.
These women, who are mostly young ladies, according to the drivers, provide herbs for all kinds of diseases, ranging from typhoid to malaria and also sexual enhancement drugs.
“They convince us to buy and because we have exposed ourselves to mosquitoes and other kind of diseases related to flies, we are forced to buy to clear our system of the disease expected to emanate from exposing ourselves to this kind of environment,” Sunkanmi Adelaja, a truck driver, told Sunday Sun.
Indeed, the environment where these truck drivers spend days and nights could easily pass for a heap of refuse bin, beginning from Mile 2 to Coconut bus-stop area, the whole lane leading to Tin Can Island Port is a big refuse bin.
All the gutters are used as toilet by the truck drivers who litter the environment, following the non-availability of waste bins, convenience, kitchen, bed, shelter, security or safety, among others.
Some of the truck drivers who spoke to Sunday Sun said that life on the Mile 2 – Apapa road is unbearable, but they have decided that they will stay there, especially as it’s a means of livelihood for them.
A visit to the Mile 2 – Apapa Expressway, commonly called Oworonsoki –Apapa Expressway, revealed that gradually the highbrow Apapa area is becoming a slump with all sorts of things happening in the area.
From the area commonly called Berger under bridge, stench from human and other wastes is giving other road users an unbearable time as the whole area is polluted.
Similarly, the odour from Indian hemp and other sorts of hard drugs being consumed by the drivers and their cohorts had kept the area charged and fearful for other persons using the road.
The heap of dirts on the road and the human feaces dropped indiscriminately in gutters and sidewalks from Mile 2 to Coconut bus-stop area of the road had also made right thinking persons to avoid the road.
While all these have scared away other road users, the truck drivers who have literally made the area their abode have continued to make the place their home as they carry out all their household activities inside the containers.
A truck driver, Yinusa Abdullahi, who spoke in the Hausa Language, described the situation as “difficult and hard,” explaining that, “all sorts of things are done here, beginning from smoking hemps, to the consumption of tramadol and also having illicit sex and all sorts, I mean all sorts.”
Indeed during the visit by Sunday Sun, it was noticed that the truck drivers and their assistants pass the night inside the containers.
Abdullahi said: “I have stayed here for two weeks, waiting for the line to move so that I can access the port, nothing is happening and my truck does not have sleeping facility, so I decided that I will get Mosquito treated net and pass the night inside the container.”
It may sound incredible, but its true, Abdullahi told Sunday Sun that since the truck drivers are now making the road their permanent abode, prostitutes have also decided to take their trade to them.
“Here, you do not look for women, women look for you and from 7:00p.m commercial sex workers commonly called ashawo come here to market their wares, of course, if you need them, it is just if you can pay the price and they are yours.
“Some who come here before morning would have spent their time with three to four men, and they have made their money and by 5:00a.m they are closing shop.
“It’s a normal thing for truck drivers and the assistants, commonly called motorboy to do ‘these things’ and this business everybody knows is black market business and whatever you do is left for you, ” he noted.
It was learnt that the commercial sex workers start operation in the area between 8:00p.m and 4:00a.m, and they take shelter sometimes in nearby tents established by some of the persons who trade on that road.
Following the influx of the container bearing trucks, the street traders who hitherto trade on cigarettes, sweets and recharge cards, have upgraded to selling Indian hemp and all manner of aphrodisiac and bitters which they said are in high demand.
While some offer ‘short-time’ in the trucks, others use abandoned shops or patronise ‘mini’ hotels around.
Residents of Kirikiri town have complained about the conduct of the truck drivers, especially as they constitute environmental hazards and pollution to the area.
For the hoodlums among them life begins at night, as they hide under the shades of darkness to perpetrate evil acts, smoke uncontrollably, attack people and steal at the slightest opportunity.
Okechukwu Mathew told Sunday Sun the same disgusting tales of sleeping inside containers and spending months on the expressway.
He said: “I have heard from my other colleagues the harrowing experience and I came prepared. I have bought my mosquito net and other things to make the night stress-free.
“We came here with the intention to drop the containers on our truck and quickly go back to continue our business, but when we get here we cannot access the port and we were told to wait and we begin to spend money unnecessarily on things we did not bargain for.”
Okechukwu whose truck had spent two weeks at the Bergar Yard area of Oshodi-Apapa Expressway told Sunday Sun that, “whatever we do here, should not bother government operatives and their agencies or anybody for that matter, because they are the ones making us spend most of time here and spend what we did not bargain for.”
Angry Okechukwu said: “Yes we live our lives here on the highway, what does Nigerians want us to do, life must go on.
“We are not happy living in a truck, since the Federal Government does not have time for us, we have to continue living life as it presents itself. Life here is like suffering and smiling, we find it difficult to bath, brush our teeth and get tidy, because we sleep in our truck.
“Sometimes, I buy pure water to brush my teeth, but I will need to go to the sea under the bridge to get some water to bath. It is bad; it is unfortunate.
“Government should fix this road and end this suffering. Our families are at home, but we cannot see them because we have to stay with our trucks. We are suffering here.”
On the ‘side attractions,’ he said: “The girls are always around at night, but you must have money to pay. They charge from N2, 000 to N4, 000, depending on negotiation, but you have to be careful, because they can steal your phone or money too.”
Also Kabiru Munthari, a 45-year-old truck driver, could not believe what was happening to him, especially as he has spent several days on the road without delivering the container on his truck to the port.
He lamented over the situation saying, “we suffer a lot. As I am talking to you, I have spent five days on the road without going home. To gain access into the port is like confronting Goliath, while loading takes two to three days. Coming out of the port will also take another four days.
“You can see our level of suffering. In fact, we are no longer bothered about getting jobs, because the roads are not encouraging. We now prefer to deliver empty containers and relax.”
Only recently, the Lagos State government has urged motorists to steer clear of the Mile 2 to Tin-Can Island Ports, along Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, in order to allow for repair work on the bad portions of the road.
The repair works announced by the state’s Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation, Dr Taiwo Salaam, have since commenced.