Truck drivers operating at the Lagos Port Complex Apapa on Friday disrupted economic activities at the seaport over allegation of extortion by the Nigerian Navy.
The truck drivers who protested at the port gate accused the naval officers controlling traffic of derailing the Nigerian Port Authority successes achieved through the opening of the Lilypond Truck Transit Park.
LEADERSHIP recalls that the traffic gridlock on the port access road has eased since the introduction of the TTP by the NPA two weeks ago.
But, speaking to journalists, chairman, Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO), Chief Remi Ogungbemi said that the drivers were protesting against harassment, extortion and brutality of the taskforce headed by the Nigerian Navy.
He said, “We have been asking the authorities to withdraw naval personnel on the road henceforth because their excesses is becoming too much. We can no longer tolerate their militant approach. They are very inhuman and maltreat the drivers.
“At times, they smash the light of the trucks; destroy the headlamp and that is not the best. We are comfortable working with Lagos Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) and the Federal Road Safety Corp (FRSC) but Navy should go back to their barracks.”
“They (Navy) are supposed to pass truck directly from Lilypond to the port but they will on their own pass the trucks outside Lilypond while those at Lilypond would not be attended to. Even some trucks that NPA officials passed out from Lilypon; Navy sometimes will return them back to Lilypond.
They are just passing the trucks indiscriminately and it looks as if NPA does not have control over their excesses.”
The truck drivers also accused the Navy of scuttling the call-up system arrangement and use of the Lilypond terminal as a transit park by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to ease traffic.
The truckers said most of them have spent several days at the truck park without gaining access to the port due to demand for bribes by Naval officials.
Speaking further, the AMATO chairman Ogungbemi accused the Nigerian Navy of working against the regulation of the truck park as some trucks that are not in the park get favoured ahead of those at the facility.
According to him, “As it is now, the trucks that are parked at Lilypond at times are abandoned while the Navy will be passing others that are not in the park, which is against the regulation.
“The regulation says the place should serve as a transit park, which means trucks can only be distributed to any loading point from Lilypond, but as it is now, there are still lots of favouritism, perhaps this is an effort to sabotage the new arrangement because Navy at times still want to show supremacy that they are in charge which shouldn’t be.”
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